Electoral (Amendment) Bill, 1961— Second Stage.

Question proposed: "That the Bill be now read a Second Time."

The purpose of this Bill is to provide for a scheme of constituencies to replace those set out in the parts of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1959, which were declared by the High Court to be repugnant to the Constitution.

Senators will already have obtained information as to the effects of the proposed revision from the maps which I have had placed in the Oireachtas library, from the explanatory memorandum which was circulated to them with the Bill, and from the various statistical statements compiled by the Central Statistics Office. In the circumstances I do not think it is necessary for me to go into detail here about the changes. The erratum slip issued with the explanatory memorandum may now be ignored since the discrepancy between the Bill and the memorandum to which the slip referred was corrected by means of committee stage amendment No. 6 in the Dáil. I should like to remind Senators, however, that the statements and the maps which have been placed in the Oireachtas library are based on the Bill as introduced in the Dáil.

The Bill provides for the same total number of Deputies as the 1959 Act, that is 144, which is the maximum representation permitted by the Constitution on the basis of a population of 2,898,264 as ascertained at the census taken in April, 1956. There are those who argue that 144 Deputies is excessive and I have discussed the point on many occasions. As roughly half of this total will be in opposition, then only the remaining half remains from which to appoint Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries. It is obviously undesirable that those holding posts as Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries should form too high a proportion of the Government side of the House. But if the membership of the Dáil is too drastically reduced, this is precisely what will happen. It is not a valid argument to point to other countries in which representation may be at the rate of one member to every 40,000 or 80,000 or even 100,000 of the population. Such ratios in countries with high populations give representative Houses with three, four and five times the total number of members that we have here; and the difficulties to which I have referred do not arise.

If the proposal to have a House of 144 members is approved, the next Dáil will have three fewer members than the present House. It is proposed to increase the existing representation of Dublin city and county by four members and to add a further member to the constituency of Kildare which is being extended to incorporate some district electoral divisions in Meath and Westmeath. To compensate for the gain of five seats to these areas and to provide for the reduction of three in the total membership of the House, it is necessary to reduce by one member in each case the present representation of constituencies in Cavan, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Longford-Westmeath, Sligo-Leitrim, Wexford and Waterford.

Section 3 and the Schedule of the Bill provide for 38 constituencies as against 40 under the Act of 1947. There will be an increase from 9 to 12 in the number of four-member constituencies and a reduction from 22 to 17 in three-member constituencies. The number of five-member constituencies will remain unchanged, at nine.

To secure ratios of population to Deputies close enough to the national average of one Deputy to each 20,127 of the population to comply with the High Court decision, it was necessary in some cases to take into constituencies areas in other counties or administrative units. This has given rise to many vehement protests. I am in the unfortunate position of agreeing most wholeheartedly with those protests— as anyone who read my evidence in the course of the High Court action will be aware—but I can do nothing, as the law stands, to remedy the matter. I am compelled to breach county boundaries if the conformity of ratios which the High Court decision requires is to be observed. If there is dissatisfaction at the results of this course the blame cannot fairly be laid on me.

A question which has been raised in connection with the Bill is whether or not it will be referred to the Supreme Court. I should like to clear the air on this point again. Article 26 of the Constitution says:

"The President may, after consultation with the Council of State, refer any Bill to which this Article applies to the Supreme Court for a decision as to whether such Bill or any specified provision or provisions of such Bill is or are repugnant to this Constitution or to any provision thereof."

It is, therefore, not my function or a function of the Government to decide whether or not the Bill will go to the Supreme Court. It is the function of the President, after consultation with the Council of State.

With regard to the text of the Bill, Section 5 is the usual section in Bills of this kind, providing the necessary declaration as to the new constituency which corresponds to the present constituency represented by the Ceann Comhairle.

On the coming into force of the Bill, many areas will be in new constituencies. The purpose of Section 6 is to provide, by direction, for the entry in the registers of electors published last month and in other similar documents of the name of the new constituency in which a transferred area is situated. It is intended that the names will be stamped on to the registers and other documents.

Section 7 makes provision for the persons who are to be returning officers and assistant returning officers in the new constituencies. The part of the section dealing with assistant returning officers is longer than the corresponding parts in the two preceding Acts because of the greater variety of constituencies, but it makes no change of substance, apart from the change of a tidying nature in subsection (2) which makes it clear that an assistant returning officer must perform the duties of his office.

Section 8 is also of an administrative nature. It will enable returning officers to arrange for polling places where an existing polling district is divided by a new constituency. This arrangement will require the Minister's sanction and will apply only until such time as the local authorities can make new polling schemes conforming to the new constituencies.

The High Court declared subsection (1) of Section 3, Section 4 and the Schedule of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1959, repugnant to the Constitution. Rather than introduce a Bill simply to replace these parts of the 1959 Act and make such further amendments in it as might be necessary, it is considered more appropriate to repeal the 1959 Act in its entirety and to replace it by the present Bill. Section 9 of the Bill accordingly proposes the complete and immediate repeal of the 1959 Act. The section also provides that the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1947, which sets out the present Dáil constituencies will be repealed on the next dissolution of Dáil Éireann.

This is the third Electoral (Amendment) Bill of this nature that I have had to deal with in this House. We had one in 1947, one in 1959, and now we have this one. All of these Bills were introduced by Ministers of the Government to which the present Minister belongs and they have several things in common. They were all brought in at the very last moment. This Bill has about it the unique quality that it was brought in because a previous Act, passed for the same purpose, was found in part to be unconstitutional. In November, 1947, a Bill was brought in at a very late period and had to become law very quickly. As a matter of fact the House had to agree to a motion for earlier signature by the President. That applied also to the Bill in 1959. It was brought in at the last moment and also had to have a motion for earlier signature in order that it should comply with the terms of the Constitution.

Therefore, there has always been a certain degree of breathless haste about these measures. The present Bill was brought in because an Act passed in 1959 was found to be repugnant to the Constitution. There are certain opinions about this kind of measure in this House, which I stated in 1947 and repeated in 1959, namely, that the principle of this Bill, if it gives rise to a principle of any kind, is certainly one for discussion in this House. Of course, we have the same constitutional power over this Bill as over any other, but normally the question of the details of how the Dáil constituencies are to be arranged should be left to the members of the Dáil. But this is a special measure. It is a very unusual case.

On the Bill of 1959, I spoke very briefly but I did quote the particular paragraph of the Article of the Constitution that seemed to me to make the 1959 Bill plainly not in accordance with the Constitution. I must say that ever since then looking at that particular section, I have been unable to understand why the Government proceeded with the Bill when it had been brought to their notice that it would be quite practicable, in the words of the Constitution, to frame the Bill in a different manner and fulfil the terms of the Constitution. However, that is a matter for the Government themselves. One could make a fearsome list of Acts which have been passed and which have been found not to be in accordance with the Constitution.

It would be no harm to recall that the Constitution of 1937 was lauded to the skies as a new instrument. It was put before the people in what I thought then, and said then, was a fraudulent manner, a manner which misrepresented the facts. It was really an amendment of the 1922 Constitution and could never have been put into operation at all or proposed to the people but for the existence of that Constitution and of Saorstát Éireann under that Constitution. There was no real change in it. There was a great deal of verbiage in it but it was put forward as something that would guarantee our liberty but it did not give us equality or fraternity because the Party opposite do not believe in fraternity and strongly object to anyone being equal to themselves.

It was used to waft political incense on the leader of the Fianna Fail Party as a prophet but apparently the Party never had time to study or understand the Constitution which they called their own. They used it for all kinds of political purposes but apparently neither they nor their legal advisers seem to have given the Constitution anything like the study which it merits. They have a long story of legal blunders; their law is as bad as the history they propagate in their speeches and in their newspapers. Any changes made have been changes of political expediency. They have been too busy endeavouring to change proportional representation to study the Constitution and——

Has this anything to do with the Electoral Bill, or is this an attack——

Is it an attack on the Constitution or does Senator Hayes wish to go back——

I hope the Senator will come soon to the matters in the Bill.

I am well aware of the parliamentary rule which says that you cannot criticise legislation already passed, unless you are in the process of amending it. I am not criticising the Constitution; I am upbraiding my friends opposite for not giving it the due regard which they said everybody else should give it. I am explaining why they did not wish to do that and why this Bill is before us.

It is taking the Senator a long time to come to the point.

This is part of the old Fianna Fáil plan that everybody must make his speech in their way. That will not get by with me. I shall make my own speech and Senator Ó Maoláin would be out of this House much more quickly if he would let me make my speech.

I never submit to threats and I do not intend to do so now.

He cannot prevent me from making my speech in my own way. They were too busy taking proportional representation out of the Constitution and too busy defaming Fine Gael and fondling the Labour Party with the kiss of death to give them time to pass legislation which would give us a proper constitutional Act of the Oireachtas under which to elect the Dáil. There is a long list of unconstitutional Acts passed by Fianna Fáil. The Sinn Féin Funds Act was unconstitutional; the School Attendance Act was unconstitutional, so was part of the Trade Unions Act. The Control of Manufactures Act was so badly conceived that it never was effective.

The Senator is raising questions that should not be raised.

I am merely giving a list to add to the Act of 1959.

The Senator is not entitled to widen the debate.

This Bill is based upon the very idea of which we are now getting an example. It is based on the idea of the one big Party who can do anything they like. The whole idea is that if people do not agree with Fianna Fáil, they should not be allowed to say what they think. We stopped that in the country and in the Dáil and it will not work here. By contrast, the Local Government Act of 1923, which was passed during civil turmoil, still survives, and has been very little amended. The Courts of Justice Act of 1924 still functions and it is only in this month of May 1961, 24 years after passing the Constitution in 1937, that the Party opposite have awakened to the fact that they have not got properly constituted Courts under the 1937 Constitution. It is no wonder that they could not pass an Electoral Act which would fulfil the terms of the Constitution. They have been so busy on political matters that they have not had time——

We went to the people and not to the courts.

I agree. The people dealt with some of their gyrations. They dealt with the attempt to abolish proportional representation. No matter what they do, under this Bill, when the election comes, the people will deal with them. I am quite confident of that.

What is the Senator so worried about then?

They are preoccupied with politics rather than the common good. They manipulated the Constitution and the law and parliament for their own Party ends and that is why we have to discuss this Bill today. The only thing they really succeeded in doing in the Constitution which they claimed was giving liberty was that they passed two sections in the Constitution which meant that no one had liberty in his person or in his home because his liberty could be interfered with according to law. They went to the Supreme Court on that. They were very careful to do that and no one noticed it. Their only successful effort under constitutional law was to create a situation where when they had a majority they could pass an Act and a person could be arrested under it and have no redress in the courts.

Having come to that point, I should now like to say a few words about the Bill itself——

——which, as I say, is an example of the extraordinary manner in which the Fianna Fáil Party ignored the Constitution, the amended Constitution of 1937.

It is not an amended Constitution.

Oh, yes, it is.

The Constitution as the Constitution is not under discussion.

It is a Constitution which I am prepared to respect and prepared to work, more than the Party opposite. It is, in fact, an amendment of the Constitution of 1922.

In fact, it is not.

Senator Hayes, on the Bill.

I wish he would come to the Bill.

Before I come to the Bill——


Senator Hayes, on the Bill.

I have done my best here for quite a long time. I have done something for more than 20 years in this House to see that the House becomes a fitting House of the Oireachtas and a parliament which will do honour to itself and give useful service to the Irish people. If the Leader of the House now persists in what I call crossroads tactics when we are discussing important legislation, it can only bring discredit upon the House and upon himself. I suggested before that he should not do that and I am now making that suggestion again.

The Senator should come to the Bill now.

I will come to it in my own way. I will come to the Bill in my own way and make my own speech. It will only take longer if Senators opposite cannot control themselves. I know they are not vexed but are only pretending to be. They do not like unpalatable truths but we have not arrived at the situation where they can bludgeon their opponents and they should not try to do it. This is an Electoral Bill, but might I suggest when the Minister said the blame is not on him because this Bill has to be introduced, that this Bill is later than most of them?

The Senator on the Senator's right knows about that.

Is it in order——

Senator Hayes must be allowed to continue to speak without interruption.

Is it in order that——

This is not a point of order.

It is. Is it in order for the Party opposite to continue interrupting?

The Senator is not bad at it himself at times.

Is it in order to have interruptions from the Leader of the House?

Senators are aware that all remarks must be made through the Chair. If they are not made through the Chair, there will be no order in the House.

You will agree, Sir, that I am making my remarks through the Chair. I always address the Chair and I am always extremely orderly. I am a very mild person and I do not know why all this excitement has arisen because I am trying to straighten things out about the Constitution and the Bill before the House. We must remember that the Bill and the Constitution are here interwoven because we would not have this Bill, if the people opposite understood their own Constitution. It is quite simple.

Be fair. For that matter, Fine Gael did not challenge it when they could have done so.

I have pointed out that all statements must be made through the Chair. Senator Hayes, on the Bill.

The 1947 Bill was brought in by Fianna Fáil at the last moment; the 1959 Bill was brought in at the last moment. The Constitution provides that the constituencies shall be rearranged according to changes in population every 12 years. This Bill comes before the House more than 13½ years after the 1947 Bill. That is a problem which it is not for me to settle. This Bill has been brought in very late, 13½ years after the last Bill.

I am in favour of passing the Bill. I hope that it is constitutional. I am in favour of its passing, and I hope that nothing will be done to keep it from becoming law, and that nothing will happen to keep it from being used for an election at the earliest possible moment. When I say something good, no one applauds, but when I said something they did not think was good, everyone objected.

The Senator objected when we did.

It is really very sad. I am not an authority on the constituencies and I never was, but it is quite clear on reading through the Bill that it is a thing of shreds and patches, that it went through the Party sieve and that every possible little bit of Party advantage or apparent advantage has been squeezed out of it. I am not blaming the Minister for that.

There is not a word of denial now.

Having been interrupted from in front, I hope I will not now be interrupted from behind because it would be very sad if I were interrupted both ways.

Do not be so sure.

However, I was going to tell a story but it might be out of order. That is what they have done. They have endeavoured to wring every single drop of political juice possible from this Bill. What I have to say about that is that I know it will not work because the Party are on the way out and no rearrangement of the constituencies, no putting a bit here and a bit there, no rearrangement to suit a favoured son of a particular Party, will help them to do what they want to do. I think they cannot do it but I will give one crumb of comfort to the Minister before I sit down.

This is an Electoral Bill and the Minister is in charge of it. If I understand the Taoiseach, the Leader of the Minister's Party aright, he does not want elections at all. He believes in one big Party, and he feels that the biggest Party except his own, the Party to which I belong, is superfluous. He wants to get one big Party and if Fianna Fail could realise their ambition, they would arrive at the point where the Minister need not introduce any Bill because the Taoiseach would be like Castro in Cuba and have no time for elections and would have no elections and, of course, the constituencies would not matter then.

However, I do not think any shuffling of the constituencies can avail them because the writing is on the wall as indicated by bye-elections and many other portents. The Bill should pass. We want an election and the sooner it comes, the better. This Bill is an effort to avoid electoral disaster, as far as it may be avoided. Fianna Fáil cannot avoid it. May I express my gratitude to you, Sir, for your forbearance while I was making this speech?

In my opinion, this Bill is definitely a talented piece of gerrymandering. I think it is partisan in the worst possible way. Despite the fact that the 1959 Bill was repugnant to the Constitution of 1937, even in the Bill we are discussing now the very high ideals and the basic rights enshrined in the Constitution are being compromised and sacrificed on the altar of expediency, and all for the political gains of the Fianna Fail Party.

The Fianna Fail Party were elected to office in 1957, due to the promises and the plans they had then for the betterment of the people. They had no plans at that time for alteration of the electoral laws and they gave no hint in their pre-election speeches of their intention to interfere in any way with the electoral laws. But instead of keeping to the promises they made before 1957, in 1958, they produced a plan to abolish proportional representation. Instead of keeping the promises they had made to end emigration, to keep down the cost-of-living and to attend to the business they were elected to attend to, they plunged the country into a futile campaign to abolish proportional representation so that they could carve up the country and so ensure that they themselves remained in office. They tried up and down the country during that year to split the people into two rival groups, dissipating the Government's energy and the energy of the people at a time when unity was needed, and the only thing, as I said, they were interested in was in abolishing the system of voting we had in this country and introducing the straight vote.

The people defeated them on that issue, notwithstanding the fact that they had the bait of having their leader as presidential candidate at that time. The Fianna Fáil Party made a second attempt in the Electoral Act of 1955 under their own rules, because it was Fianna Fáil who introduced the Constitution of 1937. Despite the fact that they were warned in the Dáil by the Leader of the Opposition and by numerous Deputies and were also warned in this House that the Bill they were introducing was repugnant to their own Constitution, they used their majority in the Dáil and in the Seanad to bulldoze the Bill through both Houses.

When speaking in this House on 25th November, 1959, the Minister had some scathing remarks to make about me and what I said. I do not mind that; we expect it in politics. He went on to say that there was hardly anything worth replying to in my speech. It might be no harm to remind him that I told him that the Bill was repugnant to the Constitution and I even quoted, at Column 1059, Article 16º2 of the Constitution. I added that "in this Bill there is over-representation in the west of Ireland and under-representation in the city of Dublin." I also told the Minister in another part of my speech that I believed the Bill was repugnant to the Constitution, but despite the fact that they were warned by the Leader of the Fine Gael Party, by Senator Sheehy Skeffington and by various other Senators, the Government went ahead and used their majority to bulldoze the Bill through the Dáil and through the Seanad.

They found out afterwards that the people who had warned them were correct. To my mind, this Bill is another masterpiece of gerrymandering, and there is no denying it. In the Dáil and throughout the country, the Fianna Fáil Party blamed Senator O'Donovan for the action that was taken, but it was up to anybody to take this action in the High Court and the people should place the blame where it belongs. It was said that Fine Gael were responsible for what was taking place, but it should be remembered that when a surgeon, for example, performs an operation, he cannot get away from his responsibility. When an individual makes a decision, he is responsible for it. Perhaps no one man is more responsible for this than another, but it is the Minister for Local Government who introduced the Bill that was contrary to their own Constitution and it is he and he alone who is responsible for it.

It is the same with a democratically elected Government. They introduced it and and on their shoulders rests the blame. According to the Constitution of 1937, the Government at that date—and it was the same Government in power then in 1959 when this Bill was introduced—decided that the ratio should be one seat for 20,000 electors, and no matter what Government were in power, it was their job to stand by that and to ensure that it was so. I think they should not have waited for any individual to challenge the legality of the 1959 Bill. Any citizen could have done so. I do not think it gains anything for the Fianna Fáil Party to say that it was a Fine Gael Senator who took the action in the end. I claim that lawmakers should not be law-breakers. It is up to the Government who introduced the Constitution to stand by it and obey their own Constitution, just as they expect any ordinary citizen of this State to obey it.

During the debate on 25th November, 1959, I said, as reported at column 1061:

"The Preamble to the Constitution begins ‘In the name of the Most Holy Trinity from Whom is all authority...' The whole tenor of the Constitution is that it spreads ‘evenly'—I would quote ‘evenly'—among the Irish people the power that comes from God to all people. But this Bill states that the people of Dublin are to have only three-quarters of the power given to the people in the rest of the country. That is altogether wrong."

As far as the 1937 Constitution is concerned, there is no room for bias. Fianna Fáil wanted to give extra representation to rural Ireland. They claimed at every county council meeting, and elsewhere throughout the country, that rural Ireland was entitled to more representation than Dublin, for instance. Perhaps in the urban areas, they tell the people that they are entitled to equal representation.

As I said, there is no room for bias, as far as the Constitution is concerned, and had Fianna Fáil wished to give extra representation to rural Ireland, they could have inserted a provision in the Constitution giving that extra representation. That was the time to make the provision. Even since the passing of that Constitution, they could have brought in an amendment to give this extra representation, had they wanted to do so. We know, of course, that that would not have suited at all in 1937. There was no room then for rural bias because at that time they were fighting the Economic War and the farmers were against them.

The Senator is now going outside the scope of this Bill.

We will be back in the abattoir in a few minutes.

The arguments put up in the Dáil and here were that rural Ireland was entitled to extra representation. I believe it would be in the general interest if we could devise some other method of revising constituencies. I believe something like an all-Party committee, or even a commission of civil servants, would be preferable for the purpose of redistributing seats when occasion warrants it. I believe such a system would give greater satisfaction. Certainly it would eliminate any suspicion of gerrymandering and would prevent Parties allocating seats to suit themselves. Counties could have boundary committees or commissions and alterations could be made in boundaries from time to time in accordance with population changes. Such a system would be infinitely preferable to the system by which political parties use a majority in the Dáil or Seanad to force their wishes down the throats of an unwilling people.

The system I suggest would be a desirable one if it could be achieved here. If it works in other countries—I have been informed that it does; possibly the Minister knows more about it than I do—I believe we, too, are sufficiently mature politically for such a system to work here. The Constitution lays down certain requirements. Subject to compliance with these requirements, it should be possible for a non-political body to allocate seats fairly and justly. That would put an end to some of the acrimonious discussions that take place in both the Dáil and Seanad. It is the duty of any Government to hold the scales as evenly as possible between all sections of the community and between all Parties, irrespective of class, creed, politics or whether the people live in the north, the south, the east or the west, in rural Ireland or in urban areas. I believe revision of constituencies could best be done by a non-political committee.

I described this Bill at the outset as a talented piece of gerrymandering. It is one of the cleverest pieces of political manoeuvring ever devised. This Government have nothing to learn from the Quisling Government in Northern Ireland. It is sad that it should be so because, if we ever want to put an end to the Border, we must be in a position to tell the people there that they will get fair play down here from any Government in office. Unfortunately we cannot say that at the moment because they can point the finger of scorn and say: "Your Government introduced a Bill in 1959 which was held to be repugnant to your own Constitution. You were not giving fair play to your own political Parties there. How do you expect that we would get fair play?"

Fianna Fáil are trying to ensure by this Bill that nearly all—all, if they can possibly manage it—of their existing Deputies will be returned. They also want to ensure the Sinn Féin Deputies in Sligo-Leitrim and Longford-Westmeath will not be returned in the future. I believe that policy to be dangerous in the extreme. The existing situation provided a safety valve. If that valve is removed, it may have very serious repercussions. Remember, there were earlier members of Sinn Féin who refused to take their seats in Dáil Éireann. It would be much wiser to allow these young people to channel their enthusiasm and their energy into getting into Leinster House. If they are deprived of that opportunity, they may turn their energy and their enthusiasm to carrying out raids on the Border. They will claim now that they are being denied the chance of getting representation in Dáil Éireann because these two five-seat constituencies have been revised to their detriment. Fianna Fáil want to ensure that Sinn Féin will not get a seat in future.

It is not surprising to find Fianna Fáil denying that their tactics are gerrymandering. Certain Senators may take exception to the word "gerrymandering". The word originated because a certain constituency was shaped peculiarly like a bird. If you look at Kildare-Meath-Westmeath now, you will see the same shape; you have the tail of the bird and you have the bill. It is very like a certain constituency in Northern Ireland a few years ago.

On a point of order, is the Senator entitled to read his speech?

I am not reading my speech. The Senator can come over and read the few notes I have, if he wants to. Fianna Fáil would like to acquit themselves of the accusation of gerrymandering. We all know why my part of Westmeath was divided as it has been. The first reason was to ensure that Sinn Féin would not be able to get a candidate elected in Longford-Westmeath and the second, that a Labour candidate became too strong in that area and was a danger to the sitting Fianna Fáil member. He is now put into Kildare, where Labour have not a hope of getting a second candidate elected. This Labour candidate was even selected at the convention and Fianna Fáil cut off that portion of the constituency. They also deliberately cut off the tail of Deputy Fagan's best area, going within one mile of his house. They continued further and cut the tail off Senator Sheridan's area.

The Senator will not be sorry on those grounds.

I think it would be far better for the debate if the Senator avoided naming individuals.

We all know that any candidate gets a majority of his votes in his own locality. If, as has been done deliberately in this case, the best areas are cut off from a Fine Gael Deputy, I think we are entitled to say that that is gerrymandering. That has been done in Longford-Westmeath and nobody denies that.

We do absolutely deny it. The Senator is talking sheer nonsense.

If it is sheer nonsense, for the first time in history, there is now one constituency joined with another that does not touch it in a single place. If a Deputy wants to get from Kildare to Westmeath, he has to travel 20 miles through Offaly. The reason is obvious. Even Deputy Giles is cut away and brought into the new constituency of Kildare, Meath and Westmeath, despite the fact that he has represented Meath for a long number of years. If that is not gerrymandering, I do not know what is. We know that the bees were around the honey-pot in the Custom House arranging the constituencies in such a way that none of their own would be cut off. Will you tell me one Fianna Fáil Deputy whose parish or townland has been taken away? There is not one.

We find that the old divisions of East and West Donegal have been changed to North-East and SouthWest. We hear nothing now about the mountains of Donegal, about which we had the arguments before. We were told we would have to keep to the mountains, that otherwise we would have an unnatural division, but now they are prepared to zig-zag across the mountains deliberately to suit the Minister for Local Government at the expense of Deputy Sheldon. The Minister may smile. Before the map was ever produced, I could be told about it by a girl, who happened to be in Donegal and heard the discussions going on in a particular place. I told it to the Leader of the Fine Gael Party in the Dáil. It turned out exactly as she said. The whole idea was that the Minister would retain his seat and Deputy Sheldon would lose his.

We all know how County Louth was dealt with to make sure that if only one Fianna Fáil Deputy was returned, it would be the Minister for External Affairs and not Deputy Faulkner. Portion of North Mayo, a place called Pontoon, was taken away and put in with South Mayo for the benefit of the Minister for Lands. They did not go near his place or cut off his area. Ballaghaderreen was brought in from Roscommon to South Mayo, obviously because it is the place where Deputy Seán Flanagan lives. Because Fine Gael beat Fianna Fáil in a straight fight in Sligo-Leitrim, the middle has been torn out of Leitrim. That was done deliberately to injure Deputy Mrs. Reynolds. They came within a mile and a half of her home. The second reason was to try to ensure that Sinn Féin would not get a seat there. They have a poor chance of getting one seat out of four. Part of Cork city, Blackrock, has been taken out of the city and put into Mid-Cork. That is an unnatural division—to take a suburban area out of a city and put it into a rural area. The two areas have nothing in common.

Fianna Fáil Deputies were very anxious in the other House about representation for rural Ireland. There is less representation for rural Ireland because of the policy of the Government, the fact that they have neglected rural Ireland and that farmers are today getting 10 per cent less for their produce than they got five or six years ago, despite the fact that costs have increased by 150 per cent. We know that thousands of people have left their homes in rural Ireland even during the past three years to earn their living in Britain and other places. People who close up their homes are not on the register and, therefore, there must be less representation for rural Ireland.

Despite the fact that this Bill is a talented piece of gerrymandering, we are prepared to let it go through because, whenever the election comes, the sooner, the better. The people of all Ireland will give the same answer as the people of Sligo-Leitrim gave in the recent by-election.

First, I think this is an opportune moment to clear away some of the misapprehensions introduced into this debate, first, by Senator Hayes and, secondly, by Senator L'Estrange. To get back to first principles, the Constitution of 1937 lays down the essential basis on which the organs of Government function in this State. It lays down the essential principles under which the liberties of the individual are guaranteed. It is that Constitution which does that and no other Constitution. The very fact that the 1959 measure passed without challenge on the Second Stage in both Houses of the Oireachtas, the very fact that that measure, on a constitutional point taken by a citizen of this country, was upset is proof positive of the living vitality of that Constitution and the interpretation of its terms by the courts.

Some of us tried to challenge it.

However, that does not detract from the fact that, in my view, the 1959 Act incorporated the most practical basis upon which the constituencies should be arranged, that is, practical as opposed to constitutional. That measure merely follows step by step in principle the measure of 1947 and the earlier measure of 1935 and the measure of 1923. In every single Electoral Act passed since the formation of this State, the principle had been admitted in practice of a distortion in favour of rural areas, for the very practical reason that representation is more difficult in a rural area as opposed to built-up urban centres. On the basis of the High Court judge's decision on the recent Electoral Act, it is my considered view that every single Act passed since the formation of this State was unconstitutional. That includes the first Electoral Act passed by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government and subsequent Acts.

An Act is only unconstitutional when it has been so declared by the court. Is that not clear?

On the basis of a careful reading of the judgment, I am quite certain that every Act passed since the formation of the State could be declared equally unconstitutional.

We may say that the Senator is not a court.

Would the Senator quote comparable figures for other Acts——

In every single Act, there was distortion in favour of rural areas. That does not exist in the present measure, and what cannot be denied is that this measure before the House enshrines, statistically and mathematically, the one seat per 20,000 people.

It is time the Senator learned it. That is the Constitution.

However repugnant it may seem.

I am not challenging the right of the court to interpret the Constitution. Under the Constitution, the courts have been set up as independent tribunals to accede to the requests of any private citizen——

It is lovely to hear that from the Senator. We did not hear it in 1922 or 1923.

We could not make that point in regard to an earlier, alien Constitution——

There were too many British guns speaking at the time.

——which had no respect and no regard in this country. It was clearly regarded by the people who voted in 1932 as being a Constitution that should be cast into the wastepaper basket, as well as various other organs of the time.

The Senator is taking a serious risk now.

The present Republican Constitution guarantees Republican courts the right to interpret the Constitution and it is proof positive of the validity and vitality of the Constitution that a measure passed unanimously on the Second Stage of both Houses of the Oireachtas was challenged successfully. We accept the effect of that decision. That does not detract from my personal view, the view taken by the framers of the Constitution, that there should be some distortion in favour of rural areas.

I believe that as a practical measure it is more difficult to represent the rural areas. However, that view is not incorporated in the Constitution. The courts have held that that view is not enshrined in the Constitution and we must have a measure which is statistically accurate. A further consequence of the court's decision is that if you are to arrange the country into units of 20,000 per representative, it follows automatically, and it was said by the judge, that there can be no regard for county boundaries. We must have 20,000 per representative and that accounts for the various matters read out here by Senator L'Estrange with regard to Longford-Westmeath, Roscommon-Leitrim and the other constituencies, Cork, Mayo, etc., where incursions had to be made into other counties, or across county boundaries so that the exact statistical calculation of 20,000 per representative would be effected. It is no harm to emphasise, and I hope it will be emphasised during the coming election, that the 1959 measure was not challenged by the Fine Gael Party in either House of the Oireachtas on the Second Stage.

Four Senators tried to.

I am talking about the attitude of the Fine Gael Party.

I shall deal with that later.

Both Houses of the Oireachtas refused to challenge the 1959 measure.

The Senator does not understand procedure. I will explain that later.

It is well known that the Second Stage debate is the occasion when a challenge is made by a particular Party as to whether they agree or disagree with the principle enshrined in the measure. The principle enshrined in the 1959 Act was accepted in Dáil Éireann and in Seanad Éireann during its passage through the Houses.

Rightly or wrongly?

That is not for me to elaborate on.

Their supporters can adjudicate on whether their attitude was right or wrong.

The Senator has no view?

My view has been quite well adumbrated. I think from a practical viewpoint the 1959 Act, involving as it did the principle of over-representation in rural areas, was a good measure and a practical measure best designed to suit the needs of the Irish people.


The principle of over-representation in favour of rural areas is a principle which I would uphold in any part of the country as best suited to Irish needs. That principle is not in our Constitution. On that technicality, the Act was challenged by a citizen and upset. I come again to the point that it is proof of the vitality of the Republican Constitution enacted by the Party of which I am a member and through the hard work of the organisation.

The point is being made—and it is probably the most outrageous point made in the course of the debates here and in the other House—that this Bill incorporates some amount of gerrymandering. I suppose, to put it straightforwardly, gerrymandering means over-representing, say, the Unionist element in Derry at the expense of the Nationalist element, and so drawing the constituencies that it can be done. Here we have the very antithesis of that principle. A most elementary democratic principle is enshrined in this Bill which gives exact representation of one per 20,000 electors for the whole country. That is the very antithesis of the notion of gerrymandering because it is an exact statistical, mathematical representation of one per 20,000. The notion of gerrymandering is the exact reverse of that.

When we take that in conjunction with the principal point made by the Fine Gael Party during the debate on our measure to establish the straight vote system, we can see the validity of the point I am making. The major argument used by the Fine Gael Party up and down the country during the referendum campaign was that in regard to Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, politics were evenly spread, that they were spread evenly over every parish, townland, county and constituency and it would mean, they said, that the straight vote would swing us into power with too great a majority and that Fine Gael would be out.

Politics here are not regionalised as they are in some countries like France. In certain areas, there is a concentration of people of a certain religious persuasion. For example, Derry is Catholic and Belfast is not. Parts of France always vote radical and other parts always vote communist. That is not the case in Ireland. They said that in Ireland people support Fianna Fáil or Fine Gael, and that in every town, parish, county and constituency, you can always tell whether a political area is Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil or Labour. You cannot do that. In that campaign, I heard them repeat time after time that if that measure went through, it would mean that Fianna Fáil would wipe out Fine Gael.

Was that not the intention? What about Longford-Westmeath?

The Minister for Local Government said Fine Gael would have "had it" and then denied it.

The point is that once you have set the principle of exact statistical representation of one per 20,000, you cannot draw a line or gerrymander a constituency to benefit any particular Party. Senator L'Estrange mentioned Longford-Westmeath. That was one example under the terms of the High Court judgment handed down after an application by a Senator. According to the High Court judgment, Longford-Westmeath could not possibly have five seats, and according to that judgment, it had too many people for four seats. On the statistics, roughly, I think it could have four and a half seats. We do not have half seats in this Parliament, although we have plenty of half-wits.

That is not fair comment.

The Senator may not reflect on members of the Dáil and he knows that.

Having regard to the fact that there are no half seats, the logical conclusion was that those people who would be sufficient to justify a half seat, about 10,000 roughly, had to be siphoned off Westmeath and into Kildare to give the exact statistical representation laid down in the High Court judgment handed down as a result of a Fine Gael Senator's application. Longford-Westmeath could not have five seats and it had 10,000 people too many for four seats. They could have gone to Leix-Offaly, Roscommon, Longford, Meath or Kildare and they were tacked on to Kildare. If they had been tacked on to any of the other counties, Senator L'Estrange would have come in here with his party piece about whatever county they were tacked on to. We must remember that the High Court judgment of representation on a statistical basis of one per 20,000 had been accepted by the Government, and there was no way out except to do what has been done in this measure.

You wanted Athlone in with Roscommon.


May I direct the attention of Senators again to the fact that they must address their remarks through the Chair?

Exactly the same point is being made in regard to Sligo-Leitrim, and it is a silly point. It is being said that we carved up Leitrim. Sligo-Leitrim had roughly the equivalent representation of four and a half seats. It could not sustain five seats. Where was it more natural to draw the line than in the bottom half of Leitrim which is naturally a separate entity because it is separated by Lough Allen? If Senators look at a map, they will see that south Leitrim is a separate entity. In that entity were the exact number of people who could be siphoned off to leave Leitrim with four seats. That practical step was taken. If the whole of Sligo-Leitrim were taken in, it would include the Ballinamore area. That was left, in order to facilitate Deputy Mrs. Reynolds who happens to live in Ballinamore. If the judgment had to be accepted of a statistical representation of one in 20,000, some part of Sligo-Leitrim had to go, and if Senators look at a map, they will see that the most reasonable part was South Leitrim which sticks out like a limb from the rest of Leitrim and is bounded by Lough Allen.

I could go on talking about the various other divisions that have been made but they are all related to the essential principle of one per 20,000 which we were ordained to observe by reason of the High Court judgment provoked by an application of a Fine Gael Senator backed by a minority element in the Fine Gael Party. Of course, in the early stages, the responsible majority leadership of the Fine Gael Party were satisfied with the 1959 measure. The responsible majority leadership of the Fine Gael Party ensured that the Whips were on and there was no dispute in regard to the legislation on Second Stage in the Dáil or the Seanad. When the responsible majority leadership saw that the irresponsible minority whippets were actually getting away with it in the courts, the responsible majority leadership decided to be irresponsible like those minority whippets and they joined the fray.

They joined the fray in the course of the present debate in the Dáil and here. We now have the position that with Deputy Dillon and Senator Hayes in this House, the elder statesmen of the Fine Gael party are now engaging in the party fun, along with the young lads who provoked the matter in the first instance and were suitably ignored by them on the Second Stage of the measure in both Houses.

You are in great order today.

It is a pity he was not here yesterday. He could have given us some charity.

However, if there is one thing clear from this debate, it is that the Taoiseach has good sense on this side in equating Fine Gael with a superfluous Party in the present context of politics and of the present stage of the political debate in this country.

The people of Sligo-Leitrim did not think that.

During the debate to establish the straight vote, we threw down a challenge to the Fine Gael Party to establish themselves here as an alternative Government with an alternative policy to put before the Irish people. We did not succeed in that particular measure, and since then the Fine Gael Party have gone from bad to worse and are still there as a minority Party.

They are still there.

A party without a policy, simply there as provokers and promoters of trouble and dissension, merely there to skulk to the courts with technical points instead of facing up to formulating a practical alternative policy to put before the people. We have a general election only a few months away.

That is clear.

At this stage what have the Irish people to see in Fine Gael activities except the legalistic and technical antics of a group of people in both Houses, concerned with scoring Party points and winning technical submissions before the High Court and scoring points in this debate, going right back to 1922? Have we any evidence in the debate in this or the other House or in any public utterances by the Fine Gael Party that they can present an alternative policy to the people so that the people can say: "There is an alternative to Fianna Fáil if we do not like them?" We have not got that yet.

We must get back to the Bill.

As long as we have not got it, there is every reason to regard the Fine Gael Party as superfluous. I should mention that this matter was first raised by Senator Hayes, who mentioned this in his opening remarks. The Irish people have never under this or any other Electoral Bill had a chance of regarding Fine Gael as other than a superfluous Party or of seeing Fine Gael present a policy which the Irish people could adopt. The Fine Gael Party are being given a chance now.

We welcome it.

I can only conclude in the light of the claptrap that has gone on with regard to this measure that the Fine Gael Party are unwilling to face up to the coming election, which we are anxious to facilitate and expedite as soon as possible. We believe that under the democratic statistical principle of one per 20,000 electors throughout the country, under the fairest possible election as that will be, electing representatives to the national Parliament, we can succeed not on the basis of mechanical tricks but on the basis of a proved policy which the people will not succeed in finding from any alternative group.

I listened with interest to Senator Lenihan and I would just like to take up one point he made early on. He said that the original Bill which was found to be unconstitutional was not challenged, and that it went through unchallenged in both Houses. Technically, of course, he is right because those of us who did, in fact, challenge it in our speeches were many, but, as shown by the report of the debate, when it came to the point when I actually challenged a division on the Second Reading—and I refer to Volume 51 of the Official Reports at Column 1078—it was found that only four Senators wanted a division. They were Senators Miss Davidson, Murphy, L'Estrange and myself. If there had been a fifth—Senator Lenihan, for instance—we could have had a division, at any rate. I myself was disappointed at the time because several Senators on the Fine Gael side indeed spoke strongly against the Bill but did not challenge a division.

On the technical ground, therefore, that a division was not successfully challenged, Senator Lenihan is justified in saying that the Bill went unchallenged, but it did not go unchallenged in the full sense because many of us challenged it very sharply, and we challenged it in no uncertain terms on the ground that the Bill was unconstitutional. We argued that whatever preference the Minister or Government might have for a rural bias, the Constitution did not permit the Government to implement that preference, unless they were prepared to go to the country and alter the Constitution by referendum. There was no point, as was pointed out by many Senators, apart from myself, in the Minister saying that the Bill was drawn up with "a slight bias in favour of rural constituencies." I am quoting the Minister from Column 1015. As was pointed out by Senator after Senator, while that might be admirable and while one might argue in favour of it, the Constitution was quite specific that representation should be the same, so far as it was practicable, and there was no use arguing that the Government wanted to give it a rural bias.

In other words, I feel that those of us who expressed our views clearly and strongly on that last occasion, on 25th of November, 1959, in discussing the Bill which has since been declared repugnant to the Constitution, are entitled to say now to the Government: "We told you so." I feel that there is no justification in Senator Lenihan pretending that there was no challenge at all. There was no effective challenge in a vote, for reasons I will deal with in a moment, but Senator after Senator made it clear that they considered the Bill to be unconstitutional.

At Column 1021, Senator Murphy said this:

"The Minister says that the rural bias is very slight. Whether or not it is slight again is beside the point. The Minister went on to quote some interesting figures about the persons per hundred acres in various constituencies. Again, I suggest, that is beside the point. What we are dealing with is a review of the constituencies as laid down by the Constitution and I suggest under the terms provided for in the Constitution."

It could not have been clearer. He was quite right and consistent in that he was one of those of us who challenged a division and wanted it. I might mention that in starting his speech Senator Murphy said at Column 1020:

"Unlike Senator Hayes, I think this is a Bill which should be opposed."

I feel that the Labour Party were quite right in that and that sections of Fine Gael were quite wrong, as they have since realised. Senator Murphy also said at Column 1020:

"...the result of the review is not, in my opinion, in conformity with the Constitution."

Now the reason Senator Murphy said he was not in agreement with Senator Hayes was that Senator Hayes had started off in a way which was doubly surprising. I should like to quote his opening words at column 1019:

My personal view on this Bill is the same as the view I expressed in 1947 on a similar Bill. This House undoubtedly has a constitutional right to discuss, or even to amend, this Bill, but it seems to me that as the Bill got a very full discussion in the other House, there is not much left for us to do but to accept it as it comes to us from the other House, because it does, in fact, concern them exclusively.

There are two or three points with regard to that. First of all, there is the very indefensible view put forward by Senator Hayes on that occasion. He runs the risk, I am afraid, arising out of such speeches of becoming known as the "misleader of the Opposition" in the Seanad because he very seriously misled his Party into thinking they should support the Bill and let it go through. I am surprised that Senator O'Quigley—I am sorry he is not here to hear me say it but he will no doubt have an opportunity of reading my speech——

He will be back.

Senator O'Quigley is very concerned for the prerogatives of this House, as we all are, but he did not point out on that occasion that for any Senator to say that a Bill of this kind or that kind concerns the Dáil exclusively is an astonishing abdication of our rights here and, of course, an astonishing failure to recognise that, when the Dáil is laying down its own constituencies, we in this House are, if anything, in a better position to decide whether this is being done impartially and fairly because we have no particular axe to grind. What Senator Hayes suggests is rather like saying that the only legitimate place to appeal against a decision of the district court is the district court. None of us would accept that.

It was that lamentable comment and supineness on the part of the Fine Gael Leader which bamboozled a large number of his Party followers, with the very honourable exception of Senator L'Estrange, the Party Whip, who had the courage to stand up, even though he was without troops, and ask for a division. I am sorry more did not ask for a division because we could now say that we at least divided the House on the issue. Because of that very mistaken and misleading advice, Fine Gael have unfortunately placed themselves in the position where they can legitimately be mocked by Senator Lenihan as they have been mocked here this afternoon.

To the credit of Senator O'Donovan, he had more courage and, I think, a better sense of duty to the Seanad and the Constitution. He had the courage to go ahead and, on his own initiative, take an action in the courts to test the validity of an Act, which many of us, including he himself, had said here in this House was unconstitutional. He has been much abused for that. For doing what? For asking a question in the court and for getting an answer that embarrassed the Government and embarrassed, apparently, some people in his own Party. Surely, once it is discovered that when this question is asked by an individual citizen at his own expense and he is justified in asking it by the decision of the court, the least that might be expected from all of us is that we should say "Thank you" to the Senator for his conscientious and brave action? I should like to put it on record that I wish we had more people with the courage, despite the big misleaders in the Party, to go ahead on their own and test the validity of such matters in the courts. That provokes Senator Hayes to loud laughter.

Oh, no. I repudiate the word "loud". One must be allowed to laugh.

One recalls what Oliver Goldsmith said about loud laughter. I do not think it applies to Senator Hayes, though his laughter just now did have a somewhat hollow ring because Senator Hayes knows perfectly well that it was his attitude in this House that prevented Fine Gael standing solidly behind this action and cashing in validly on the kudos that came to a few members of Fine Gael. Senator Hayes, who so seriously misled the House on the whole issue, was not one of them.

In the debate, a number of Senators, including Senator Murphy, Senator Barry, Senator O'Donovan, who spoke very clearly in pointing out that the Bill was against the Constitution, and other Senators made it abundantly clear that, in their view, the whole Bill was unconstitutional.

I should like to quote some of the things I said myself in that regard. At column 1034 I said:

I do not think it is a Bill that could be improved in Committee. I think it would need to be re-designed ab initio to satisfy the demands of justice.

That was the reason I opposed the whole Bill and did not put down any amendments.

Again, in Column 1037, I said:

When do numbers cease to be the same?

—because "the same" is the phrase in the Constitution—

When does an increase, for instance, on the number 16,000 begin to look like disparity? If you find you get one T.D. for 16,000, one T.D. for 16,500 and one T.D. for 17,000 is that a disparity or is that still "the same"? When do we regard 17,000 as being the same as 16,000, and so on? The words in the Constitution are "shall ... be the same throughout the country".

We are asked in this Bill to believe it is the same when one T.D. represents 16,000 people, another 17,000 people or 17,500 and another 24,000. So, under the terms of this Bill, 24,000 is equal to 16,000.

I think I made the position very clear, and I think I made it clear that what Senator L'Estrange calls a distortion in favour of rural areas was in fact a gross injustice and grossly repugnant to the Constitution.

I made that clear on that occasion further down in the same column by saying:

It is quite clear that this disparity is there far in excess of what is rendered necessary by practical considerations.

I feel I was justified in saying that by the facts and my opinion was confirmed by the High Court decision.

I added in column 1038:

Therefore, I think, there is a strong presumption that what Senator O'Donovan says is right and that this Bill does not conform to the spirit and the letter of the Constitution.

That could not be clearer, but the Government were determined that, though they had eyes, they would see not. Further, talking about the figures the Minister mentioned, if I understood him correctly as a justification for the disparity, I said: "Not that it was not practicable to have the numbers the same throughout the country but that it did not suit the Government and did not suit the country because the Government thought there should be a bias in favour of the rural areas and the rural voters."

I should like at this juncture to turn back to another Bill which was before us in 1959 also. That was the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill. I put down an amendment to that Bill for the purpose of removing from the Constitution the words "so far as it is practicable." I do not know whether anybody remembers my putting down such an amendment, but I find it a matter of interest now. En passant it would also have been necessary to knock out the word “féidir” in the Irish version. I will quote now volume 50, column 1453:

The effect of my amendments would be to remove the words "so far as it is practicable" and to insert the words, "to within a tolerated variation of 500 either way."

The purpose of my amendment was not to wipe out any variation but to allow a variation which would appear reasonable. The Minister, Deputy Aiken, had said he could not accept this amendment. I said further at Col. 1457:

The question I want to ask the Minister is what sort of tolerated variation does he anticipate? What is the order of magnitude of the maximum variation that he anticipates as proving necessary in certain cases?

The Minister replied that it would be impossible for him to answer that question. I pressed the question and said: "Would it be 5,000 or 6,000?" and I got no answer. And, in effect, in some areas it was as much as the variation between 16,000 and 24,000, so that we would have had to anticipate there would be a variation, not of 500 either way but of 4,000 either way.

Finally, in this debate, I said at column 1458:

My question is, does this qualifying phrase, "So far as it is practicable," cover differences of 5,000 or 6,000 population in constituencies?

That was said on 12th March, 1959, before the Electoral Bill was brought in at all. I feel we can say in the Seanad that the Government had ample warning of the fact that there was serious constitutional objection to the kind of Bill they had it in mind to frame. Although they had warning six months before and although the question had been specifically put about the order of the magnitude of the variation, the Government were quite obdurate in their insistence to go ahead with the sort of Bill they had in mind and which turned out to be repugnant to the Constitution.

I made the point clear on the Electoral Bill in November, 1959. I am puoting from Column 1038 of Volume 51:

In other words, the Government are trying deliberately and openly and admittedly to give a bias in favour of one section of the electorate and they must prove that, in doing that, they are in fact giving the same representation throughout the country. The phrase "throughout the country" is the phrase used in the Constitution. I feel there is a heavy onus upon the Government to show that they have in some Article of the Constitution the right to give a bias to the rural areas. I contend they have no such right.

Finally, at Column 1040, I said:

However, I would stick to the view that no matter what one's living conditions or wealth, or importance, or acreage, one should have one vote which proportionately should carry no more weight than that enjoyed by one's neighbour. The voter is not more important if he is living by himself on 100 acres than if he is living with 54 other people in a Dublin tenement.

I feel, having said that and having been at one with a fairly large number of Senators, we are entitled today to say to the Government: "We warned you about the previous Bill. We warned you before it came up and we warned you when it came up. It was through Government blindness that you walked yourselves into trouble."

I should like to say at this juncture that I deplore—it has not been done in this House but it has been elsewhere —the attitude of those who say: "We are forced to accept the High Court decision, but we still think we are right." I deplore it but, of course, anybody saying that is making himself absurd. The fellow walking out of the High Court having failed in his appeal against a decision of the district court and saying: "I still think I am right" is entitled to take that view, but most of his friends will think he is a fool. If one is quite certain one is right, having lost the decision in court, there is a method open to one. It is to appeal to the Supreme Court.

I notice that the Taoiseach said in the Dáil that he was thinking about this, but had decided against it on account of the pressure of time, of the nearness of the census and so on. The Americans say there are always two reasons for any course of action. One is the perfectly good reason and the other is the real reason. In this case, the perfectly good reason was the pressure of time and the nearness of the census, but the real reason was that the Government knew they would lose their appeal to the Supreme Court also, that they would not have an opportunity of saying: "Well, we think perhaps there was a mistake in the High Court." I do not think, not having appealed it, any of them should say: "We still think we are right, even though the courts have decided otherwise." It is up to them to take the decision of the courts or to appeal against it.

To come immediately to this Bill, it is an honest effort to comply with the Constitution. Senator Lenihan made it clear that it is the first time, in his opinion, in the history of the State that such a Bill has conformed to the Constitution. However, this is an effort, and I feel that on the whole it is an honourable and genuine effort to conform with the Constitution. Nevertheless, I am out of sympathy with the view that, because a constituency would be entitled in theory, as Senator Lenihan said, to four and a half Deputies, you have to take a piece out of it and join it with another constituency. I would much prefer—and I suggest this is a defect in the Bill—to see constituencies doubled up as necessary, as Sligo-Leitrim are, and Carlow-Kilkenny and Laois-Offaly. I see no reason why constituencies should not be doubled up in order, if necessary, to join up two halves and have a seven-seat or nine-seat constituency.

It seems to me that the Government, if they suggest as Senator Lenihan does that they had no alternative, are failing to see the alternative of joining two together. I am aware of the sort of argument used about that—the unfortunate Deputies having to travel around so much—but in point of fact, the Deputy here, in a constituency where he is supposed to represent about 20,000 people, has got nothing like the amount of responsibility he would have in Britain, where he might have to represent as many as 80,000 people. That is the ordinary ratio there. In Ireland, you may have 20,000 people in two constituencies where the roads are good. There is no earthly reason why such a constituency, being represented by seven different Deputies, should constitute any great burden on individual Deputies.

It would have, of course, from the point of view of the big Parties the disadvantage that the small Parties and the Independents would be more likely to get their true proportion of representation. It would, in fact, more directly represent the spirit of the Constitution and proportional representation, which the country as a whole is in favour of, as they showed by the referendum. If you had seven and nine seat constituencies, you would certainly have a certain loss of seats by the big Parties. On that, they would be agreed. They do not want seven-seat or nine-seat constituencies, but such constituencies are far better than the three-seat constituencies, in which nearly always the small Parties and the Independents get squeezed out.

Finally—I do not want to speak at further length—I should like to make two points. One is to put the query— and perhaps the Minister would take it up—that if I read the Constitution correctly—I have not got it before me —the drawing up of the constituencies is supposed to be in accordance with the most recent census. We have had a census recently. This Bill has not yet become an Act. When it does become an Act, it will not, in fact, be taking into account the most recent census. I recognise that the results of that census will not be known, but it has been held, and it is the most recent census. Nobody will refer to it as the 1962 Census because the figures come out in 1962. It is, in fact, the 1961 Census. If the 1961 Census is so called because it was held in April, 1961, then the most recent census is the one of April, 1961. Yet this Bill, which has not yet passed into law, has not taken that into account. The Government may say something about the results not being out yet but the Constitution says you must take it into account. I should like to hear the Minister's reply to the possible objection that this Bill is repugnant to the Constitution on the ground that it does not take into account the most recent census.

The second point I want to make is that if this Government had been prepared to listen to the Seanad, and the few Deputies who protested against the original Act, think of the money that would have been saved. We are sometimes told that this Parliament, the Dáil and Seanad, costs a lot of money. How much money would have been saved if the Government had been prepared to listen to those who said that the disparity of one Deputy per 16,000 and one per 24,000 could not by any manner of means be twisted to mean the same throughout the country as far as practicable? The cost of its passage through both Houses would have been saved and the cost of the court proceedings—the costs of which are not yet known—would have been saved, and the country would have been spared all the anxiety and strain. The only expense would have been the expense of drawing up the present Bill, or some such Bill. All that money would have been saved if the Government had been prepared to listen a little more closely to the very cogent objections made by many Senators here. I feel therefore that we can be pardoned if upon this Bill some of us say: "We told you so."

Having listened to Senator Lenihan, I felt that I had to speak because in this day and age, it is hard to understand how anybody could be as naïve as he was this afternoon. He said that gerrymandering is over-representing a group. It is best that I should give an example of a constituency with which I am familiar. In Tipperary, we had two constituencies, North and South Tipperary. The North constituency returned three members to the Dáil and the South constituency returned four members. South of these constituencies were Waterford city and county, which returned four members to the Dáil.

It was necessary in these three constituencies that one member should be dropped and instead of doing the sensible and obvious thing, making Tipperary into two three-seat constituencies or one six-seat constituency, which would probably call for less adjusting of baronies and so on, what was done was that a slice of West Waterford, south of the Knockmealdown Mountains and much of it even further south of the River Blackwater, running down to Youghal Bridge, was added to the South Tipperary constituency. Two small portions of South Tipperary were given to the North constituency in order to bring it up to the required number of approximately 20,000. The portion of West Waterford which has been given to South Tipperary to keep South Tipperary a four-seat constituency represents about 6,500 voters.

These people in West Waterford feel that they have been gerrymandered and misrepresented or whatever anyone would like to call it, because if every one of them voted for a West Waterford man, regardless of political views or Party affiliation, it would not be possible for them to have a quota. I feel that the people of Waterford, of the Decies, one of the oldest political divisions, have been dismembered when there was an easy and practical solution of making the old Palatinate of Tipperary, as it was in the past, into one or two constituencies, which would have been a sensible way out.

I feel I must make this protest in this House on behalf of these people and against the bad job that was done, particularly for the people of Waterford. People of all political Parties in Waterford feel that they are almost completely without representation. It is more than likely that those to be elected in that constituency must all be South Tipperary people. People of Waterford, living in Lismore, Tallow or Cappoquin, perhaps 40, 50 or 60 miles away, will be asked to vote, having been badly treated under this Bill. I believe the Minister should look at it again and consider making Tipperary into two constituencies or one constituency and leaving Waterford intact. I know he may say, because he has access to the statistics, that this is not quite as easy as I suggest, but South Tipperary if it were a six-seat constituency, would have something over the number and a small adjustment on the south-west border of Tipperary would be sufficient to keep Waterford a four-seat constituency.

Senator Lenihan, who was in great form this afternoon and very smug in his utterances, said that they had been ordained to do this. I do not know what kind of ordination ceremony it was, whether it was a sacrament or a sacrilege, but what has been done to Waterford by its dismemberment was very nearly a sacrilege and nobody ordained them to do it.

Maidir leis an mBille seo, sé tá i gceist ná an bhreith a thug an Ard-Chúirt a thabhairt fé ndeara. Tá siad go léir anois ag caint mar gheall ar cad ba cheart a dhéanamh ach tar éis a tuigtear gach beart. Is ceart dúinn go léir a bheith freagarthach don Bhunreacht. Sin é Bunreacht na tíre agus sé ár ndualgas go léir a bheith dílis don Bhunreacht.

Do cuireadh an cheist seo fé bhráid na hArd-Chúirte agus do fuarthas amach ná raibh an Bille eile dleathach de réir an Bhunreachta. Ní hé seo an chéad uair a cuireadh iarratas mar sin fé bhráid na hArd-Chúirte agus isé mo thuairim féin gur maith an rud é go bhfuil córas mar sin i bhfeidhm sa tír seo chun talamh slán a dhéanamh de má reachtfáilfear aon rud a bheadh i gcoinne na Bunreachta.

I do not propose to say much on this measure, which is an amendment of the Electoral (Amendment) Act, to rectify the situation created by the decision of the High Court. We are being told now, of course, by certain Deputies and Senators, that they advised us that this would be the result of the passing of the 1959 Act. As I said already in Irish, it is easy to be wise after the event. This is not the first time cases like this have been referred to the High Court for the purpose of ascertaining whether they were or were not repugnant to the Constitution. It seems now that because it was decided that there was a certain slight bias in favour of rural Ireland representation in the 1959 Act, it has been found to be ultra vires the Constitution.

My observation in that connection is that if there were such a bias, it was justifiable. As Senator Lenihan has already pointed out, representation in rural Ireland is entirely different from representation in thickly populated centres such as Dublin, where a Deputy has to travel only a mile or two or a couple of miles to meet his constituents, whereas in the country, Deputies have to travel long distances, sometimes 50, 60, 80 or over 100 miles, to attend meetings and hear the grievances of their constituents. I, for one, would be prepared to support whatever amendment of the law would be necessary to even up the position a bit in favour of rural Ireland.

The motive behind the 1959 Act was to bring representation in rural Ireland up to a manageable level; in other words, to make sure that the people who live in remote parts of rural Ireland would get, if not as much attention as they would get if they lived in the city of Dublin, some improvement in their position. However, people's ideas about these things, and people's wishes, are sometimes frustrated. They are being frustrated now because of the decision of the High Court. As I say, this is not the first time a decision like this was arrived at in connection with measures of this kind. I do not see why there is all this controversy about it.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington referred to the fact that the Government did not bring an appeal to the Supreme Court. They could have, of course, but then they had to take the time factor into consideration. Also in that connection, Senator Hayes, leading off the debate, referred to the haste with which this Bill has been brought in. I do not see that there was any haste about it, but if there was, that haste was occasioned by the delay on the part of the member opposite in bringing the action to the High Court. A whole year was let go by before it was decided to refer the matter to the High Court to have the constitutionality or otherwise of the measure decided upon.

Senator Hayes also referred to the Constitution and said it was nothing but an amendment of the 1923 Constitution. Of course that is not at all correct. I do not want to go into detail because it would serve no useful purpose, but we know, of course, what the Constitution of 1923 was, the circumstances surrounding it and the circumstances in which it was brought in.

Do not mention all the circumstances!

We have now a freely accepted Constitution and if it ever has to be amended, the only people who can amend it are the Irish people themselves. Senator Hayes also said that the Fianna Fáil Party were too busy fondling the Labour Party to take notice of the constitutional issues. I do not know exactly what he meant by that.

He did not say it.

He certainly did; I took a note of it. I do not know what he meant by that or whether that statement is to be taken seriously. I am not aware that the Fianna Fáil Party ever fondled any other Party. They have always stood on their own feet.

What about the Independents?

On everyone else's toes.

If there could be any accusation of one Party fondling another Party, that accusation should be levelled——

What about the Independents in 1952?

We have all had experience in this country of Parties fondling one another and the results were disastrous for the country.

That was after the 1952 Budget. You are right.

I must say that the Minister for Local Government has had what I would call an unenviable task in having to introduce two Electoral (Amendment) Bills to the Oireachtas. There was not much debate on the first Electoral Act. Its passing was not opposed by the Fine Gael Party or by any Party for that matter, and we are entitled, then, to come to the conclusion that as far as those parties were concerned, they had no fault to find with it.

Read our speeches.

I am always more concerned with what people do than with what people say. People say many things in the course of debates but it is what they do in the end that counts.

We are not paying any attention to you, so.

It is the action in the end that counts a lot more than what people say, and the fact remains that the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 1959 passed through the Dáil and Seanad without any division on the Second Stage, which is the important Stage in which the broad principles of a Bill are accepted or rejected by the Oireachtas.

We have heard accusations here to-day again of gerrymandering. Senator L'Estrange of course is an adept at hurling accusations of that kind at the Government. There is no such thing as gerrymandering in this Bill. There is, of course, and must be, a departure from the traditional county boundaries that we know, but the question is: who is responsible for that? It is not the Minister. The Minister and the Government have to accept the decision of the High Court, and if there were no such decision, then there would be no departure from the traditional county boundaries that Senators and members of the Dáil have been complaining about. If a Deputy or a Senator challenges the validity of an Act, and if as a result of that challenge, he finds things occurring that he does not like, who is to blame for that?

Deputies and Senators cannot have it both ways. They cannot blame the Minister, who, in all good faith and after careful consideration, in 1959 put a Bill before the Houses of the Oireachtas for their consideration, which the Oireachtas accepted in principle. If the Bill was found to be ultra vires the Constitution as a result of a challenge in a case brought before the High Court by a member of this House, that is not the fault of the Minister. The Minister has to take cognisance of that position and try to do the best he can. It is a pity that the traditional county boundaries have to be departed from, but there is no alternative, so far as I can see. If there is an alternative, we would like to hear it explained and put forward by the members opposite, but no worthwhile alternative has been put forward in this or the other House.

We are living here in a free democracy, and that carries with it certain privileges and certain responsibilities, as we have always said. It also carries with it certain advantages and certain disadvantages. The thing to ascertain is whether the advantages outweigh the disadvantages, and it can be truthfully said they do. We live in a democracy in which there is vested the power of the Executive, the power of the legislature and the power of the judiciary. They are separate powers, and in this case the power of the judiciary has been brought into play. We are all accepting that, and accepting the right of the judiciary to make their pronouncement on the constitutionality or otherwise of any Act passed through this Oireachtas. In this case, they have declared the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 1959 to be unconstitutional and we all have to accept that.

Senator Sheehy Skeffington said that it was open to the Government to bring an appeal to the Supreme Court. There is not very much time left to the Government to bring that appeal because of the fact that so much time was allowed to elapse between the passing of the Act and the bringing of the case before the High Court. In all the circumstances, the Government have done the right thing, because by the time the appeal would be heard and decided by the Supreme Court, it would be necessary to extend the life of the present Dáil and that, in my opinion, would be undesirable. If the Government made that decision as they would have to if they brought an appeal before the Supreme Court, they would be accused of trying to hold office for as long as they could. In any case, that action, if it were taken by the Government, would not be justified in normal times such as the present. There may be justification for it in abnormal times.

I do not think I should say much more about this Bill. It has been brought in by the force of circumstances, circumstances over which the Government had no control. I am sure the Minister would have preferred not to have been compelled to bring this Bill before the Oireachtas, but the Minister has to do his duty. This is one of his ministerial functions. He has to try to implement the decision of the High Court and the only way he can do so is by bringing in a measure of this kind. I do not see why there should be any great controversy about it. The Leader of the Opposition has said that he is not opposed to the passage of this Bill.

Certainly I want this Bill passed.

We can criticise it, and then let it go.

I should like to join in the protests against the division of the various constituencies. I do not entirely blame the Minister; I do not even blame the civil servants. Reports have been issuing from underneath the Fianna Fáil Iron Curtain to the effect that a number of gentlemen, described as the carvers, were at work for a considerable time trying to manipulate the boundaries to suit the Party. That is common knowledge. The reports came from supporters of their own Party. I am sure more maps were gone over and more red ink used in drawing boundaries to the satisfaction of the Fianna Fáil Party than were ever gone over or used before.

Consider for a moment the position in the county and city of Cork. At the moment we have 12 rural Deputies and five city Deputies. We have four rural constituencies of three seats each. These are ideal constituencies, easily accessible. What will we have under this measure? We will have one constituency with five members, one with four, and one with three. Senator Ó Ciosáin asserted these boundaries were drawn to give Deputies an opportunity of keeping contact with their constituents. The five-seat constituency starts at Cobh and ends beyond Charleville. There is a candidate from Cobh for this area. There is also a man from Charleville. How can they be expected to travel the length and breadth of that constituency?

West Cork is bigger.

I will come to West Cork in a moment. Mid-Cork starts at Cahirciveen and goes right up to the Kerry border in a narrow strip. I cannot understand the reason for that division. Part of the city was taken off and put in with the northern side of the county. In West Cork, there are two county council divisions, Skibbereen and Schull. Part of the Skibbereen division is now in Mid-Cork. Possibly that suits the Fianna Fáil Party. I do not say it does not. In the northern part of the county, they transferred part of the Macroom area into South-west Cork. Had Cork been left as it was the position would be infinitely preferable to what it will be under this Bill.

This Bill comes to us, as everybody realises, in quite unusual circumstances. It would not be right to let the occasion pass without some reference to the circumstances in which it comes before us. In that context, I want to refer first of all to the spirit which informs the Constitution. In the earlier provisions, the President, on taking the oath, affirms in the presence of Almighty God that he solemnly and sincerely promises and declares that he will maintain the Constitution and uphold the laws. Every judge upon taking office affirms he will uphold the Constitution and maintain the laws. It might be pertinent to inquire what is the relevence of quoting these excerpts from the Constitution on this Bill. The relevance is that the Minister and every member of the Fianna Fáil Party are trying to make the action taken in the courts of this country by Senator O'Donovan appear to be something wrong and something that has brought evil on the country. All we can say of Senator O'Donovan is that, as the President is obliged to do by his oath and the judges are obliged to do by their oath under the Constitution, he upheld the Constitution.

Where constitutional history is concerned, no greater tribute can ever be paid to any man than to say he upheld the Constitution. If ever any epitaph is written on Senator O'Donovan's tomb, then the most fitting one will be that he upheld the Constitution.

The Senator might undertake to write it.

I hope we will have an end to the Minister's carping, complaining and whining that he is not to blame for this Bill because it is in accordance with the Constitution. When Bills are introduced here, as Senator Sheehy Skeffington said in relation to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill and the single non-transferable vote of unhappy memory, the opening remarks of every Fianna Fáil Senator who speaks are remarks congratulating the Minister, welcoming the Bill and saying they will do everything to support it. Nobody this evening has so far congratulated the Minister on introducing this Bill—I have no intention of doing so—but I commiserate with him because we have a sick man in the person of the Minister for Local Government. At column 521 of volume 189 of the Official Report he complains in these terms:

Candidly, I am sick of listening to the hypocrisy I have had to, not only on this Bill but on the 1959 Bill and on the Third Amendment to the Constitution Bill. I am sick and tired of listening to that hypocrisy that is so frequently putting the case one way and can so easily switch over to put the opposite case to-morrow and that will call down the saints from above to witness how strongly these people feel in those cases, even though they are contradictory.

I commiserate with the Minister on having to bring in a Bill in accordance with the terms of the Constitution and I condemn the Minister for the grossly inefficient manner in which he has brought in the Bill. The Constitution does not require the distortions that have been produced in this Bill. Senator L'Estrange has very clearly indicated the motives behind the various boundaries drawn. It would be very interesting if the Minister would do in this House or in Dáil Éireann what he refused to do in the High Court, that is, to produce the draft Bill which was drawn up during the term of office of Deputy O'Donnell as Minister for Local Government. The Minister refused to bring that into the High Court for one reason only—that it showed how the constituencies could be drawn in accordance with the Constitution and not have anything like the distortions contained in this Bill.

Before I proceed any further, I understand Senator Sheehy Skeffington had some words to say about me earlier on. I am sorry I did not hear them because I am sure they were very pleasant. As far as my political forebears are concerned, Fine Gael always stood for law and order and the Constitution.


They have inherited that tradition. They believe in the Constitution and law and order. Because of that, they realised, and so expressed themselves in the Dáil on the introduction of the 1959 Electoral (Amendment) Bill, that they would not oppose it on Second Reading. Their reason was that the principle of the Bill was to revise the constituencies. It is mandatory under the Constitution to revise the constituencies within 12 years. The Bill to revise them was introduced in October, 1959, sometime after the Recess. It had to be enacted before 29th November, 1959, to bring it within the 12 years. That was the efficiency of the Minister for Local Government—they left a period of less than 12 months in which to consider the Bill to revise the constituencies. That was the reason the Bill was not opposed on Second Reading.

They were hoping that P.R. would be abolished.

They were hoping that. They were too busy at that time trying to get rid of the three-, four-, five- and six-seat constituencies. Senator Lenihan does not appreciate this because he does not understand Standing Orders. I do because I have the benefit of the experience of Senator Hayes who understands them.

He is the oracle?

He is the expert on them in this country. He had to deal with them in very difficult times and teach some people something about the procedure of Dáil Éireann.


There were various divisions on the Committee Stage of the Bill in the Dáil. The Whips were off for one of the divisions on Committee Stage. The Minister, at another time and in another place, tried to pass the blame for the constitutional provisions in the Act on to that. On the Fifth Stage of the Bill, there was a division on the specific point that the Bill was being opposed at that stage because of its unconstitutionality. Anybody who wants to verify that has only to read the speech made by Deputy McGilligan on the Final Stage of the Bill. This is not a garbled version of the facts, but it is the truth. It can be verified by anybody from the Official Reports of Dáil Éireann.

Typical McGilligan vitriol.

No, but typical McGilligan knowledge of constitutional law and respect for the Constitution. As far as this House is concerned, we were in the position that if we did not pass the Bill at the time we did, it would be outside the 12 years. That point was considered by the Fine Gael Party. It was one of the principal reasons why the Bill, having been condemned as unconstitutional, was allowed to pass.

One of the amazing things about this Bill, and indeed about the 1959 Bill, is the extent of the apologia by the Minister for Local Government for a Dáil consisting of 144 Deputies. At one time, for want of a better argument, he used something said by some of the Fine Gael Deputies on the Referendum Bill to justify a fairly large Dáil. In this Bill, we have provision for 144 Deputies. I want to give an indication of the Fianna Fáil idea of progress. It is very interesting. In the 1935 Bill, which was introduced by the then Minister for Local Government, Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly, the number of seats was 138. The Minister for Local Government had some apologies to make for not having a smaller number in Dáil Eireann. He took the stand that that was the right size. He said he was having no nonsense from anybody. He said he was not taking any nonsense from his own Party— that the Government were in disagreement about the size of the Dáil.

It was Fianna Fáil policy in those days to bring the Dáil down to 100 members. This is what the then Deputy Lemass had to say at column 1287 of Volume 151. He said that the 1935 Act was based on four principles. One was a reduction in the number of Deputies. I shall not trouble the House by reading the remaining principles. He said, at column 1282, that it was not at the moment practicable to get down to a membership of 100 and added "We are, however, moving in that direction." The progress towards the 100 was: from 138 in 1935 to 147 in 1947, to 144 in 1959 and, in the present Bill, the maximum number permitted by the Constitution. That is the kind of progress towards a reduction in the number of Deputies upon which Fianna Fáil got into power in the 1930's. That is the kind of dishonesty which pervades the arguments in relation to the action taken by Senator O'Donovan and the Constitution.

One of the great arguments which brought forth the condemnation and wrath of many people on this Bill is the fact that the county boundaries have been broken into. Let us be quite clear on this. It is not the action of Senator O'Donovan which has brought about this; it is the requirement of the Constitution which has brought it about.

I do not care how long it takes me to make my speech. I am going to quote so that it may be clearly on, the record for those who are interested in relation to the provisions of the 1922 and 1937 Constitutions regarding this matter. Under the 1935 Act, the county boundaries were broken into in the case of seven constituencies, ignoring Dublin county and city, and there was no action taken by Senator O'Donovan in 1935. How does the Minister for Local Government, and his predecessors, justify and explain the breach of the county, boundaries in 1935? Only in one case was it necessary to do so in order to comply with the provisions of the 1922 Constitution. The provisions of the 1922 Constitution in relation to some of the constituencies are the self-same, almost word for word, as in the 1937 Constitution and I will come to deal with the situation later as to what amendments might have been made.

This is the explanation, and a very correct explanation, which Mr. Seán T. O'Kelly, as Minister for Local Government, had to make in relation to the breach of the county boundaries in the 1935 Act. Speaking at Volume 51, column 1260, of the Official Reports, he said:

The presumption from the Article of the Constitution is that there are, in fact, to be local constituencies, and that it is the Government's duty to submit to the Oireachtas from time to time such proposals for revision of the constituencies as may appear desirable or necessary following ascertainment at census of population. The First Schedule to the present Bill sets out the proposed readjustments.

The census figures disclose that, to comply with the requirements of the Constitution, considerable changes would have to be made in the existing scheme of representation. On the basis of the 1926 figures, in no fewer than 13 constituencies,——

he was speaking in 1934—

——out of the 28 was the population per Deputy less than 20,000, and in five of these the figure was less than 19,000.

Since the present Government came into power the question of revision has been under consideration in so far as time would permit.

He goes on to explain the delay in bringing in that Bill which was like this Bill, outside the constitutional time —10 years. The last Act was in 1923 and it should have been brought in in 1933. That was the respect they had for that Constitution. Well, people can overlook that on the part of Fianna Fáil in relation to a Constitution which they did not particularly respect.

The then Minister went on:

Owing to the calls of other business as well as the difficulties met with in evolving a scheme which would comply with the Constitution and at the same time be workable, it was not possible until now to introduce this measure

At a later stage, at column 1333, he says:

I believe that the lines on which I have gone in drafting this Bill will result in getting a House that will be truly representative of the people ...It will, as I have said, mean stability as well. In all those circumstances I think it will be for the good of the country to adopt the measure.

That was a measure that broke the county boundaries. At column 1262, he said:

It does not appear that administrative convenience is violated. Quite the contrary.

On the question of the county boundaries, he was at great pains to point out that the present boundaries did not conform with any identifiable historical or territorial divisions, that these were all products of various Acts of the British Parliament and in particular of the 1891 Local Government Act. Therefore, we find the Minister for Local Government in 1934 justifying the breach of the county boundaries on the basis that the breach was a necessary requirement of the Constitution.

The last quotation I will make is from Volume 52, column 200, where the same Minister had to say:

There is a certain sentiment attached to county boundaries in some areas, and it is one which cannot be entirely disregarded by anyone. It has been disregarded in some cases unquestionably but that was unavoidable because of this condition laid down in the Constitution, that we must not exceed 30,000 per member or have less than 20,000 and we must have the proportion throughout the country identical.

I should like the Minister for Local Government to address his mind to these excerpts from the then Minister for Local Government on the 1934 Bill and to realise and admit that he is not correct in adopting the present breach of the county boundaries. Apparently the Minister's attitude and that of the Fianna Fáil Party is: "It is all right for us to go against the Constitution and set it aside if nobody pulls us up." If that is the Minister's respect for the Constitution, it is time we had a clearer indication from him than we have had up to the present.

There has been a great deal of talk about the 1922 Constitution and the 1937 Constitution. I have here the 1922 Constitution, a copy of which may not be so readily available, and in Article 26, it provides, first of all, that the number of members shall be fixed from time to time by the Oireachtas and that the number shall not be fixed at less than one member for each thirty thousand of the population or at more than one member for each twenty thousand of the population. That is the same as at present. It further reads:

Provided that the proportion between the number of members to be elected at any time for each constituency and the population of each constituency, as ascertained at the last preceding census, shall, as far as possible, be identical throughout the country.

The only difference between that wording and the wording of the present Constitution, as far as the English text is concerned, is "as far as possible, be identical." There is no difference in meaning with "so far as it is practicable, be the same," particularly when you look at the Irish version. Then it goes on to say that the Oireachtas shall revise the constituencies at least once in every ten years.

Business suspended at 6 p.m. and resumed at 7.15 p.m.

Before the break, I was endeavouring to establish that whatever might be the cause for the breach of the county boundaries, it certainly was not the action of any individual. I was pointing out that the provisions of the 1922 Constitution being exactly similar to the provisions of the 1937 Constitution, the Oireachtas were obliged in the 1935 Electoral Act to do precisely what is being done in this Bill.

I want to quote now from volume 67-68, column 40 of the Dáil Official Reports:

That brings me to another matter. One set of critics say that we are creating a dictatorship, and another set of critics say that we have made no change at all. There is no truth in the statement that we are creating a dictatorship. To a certain extent, there is truth in the statement that we have used, and propose to use in the new Constitution, methods which we have used here and found satisfactory in the past. I think there is wisdom in that. In any case, wishing to get this through the Dáil——

That is the new Constitution—

——and wishing to get it to the people and accepted by the majority of the people, I was anxious, naturally, that the things that we were satisfied with should remain: that we should not have change simply for change's sake.

That was President de Valera as he then was, and now is, speaking on the introduction of the 1937 Constitution.

What is its relevance to the matter now under discussion?

I am pointing out that what was done in the 1935 Act was done under the 1922 Constitution which, so far as its electoral provisions, and even its main provisions are concerned, was exactly similar to the 1937 Constitution. Therefore, the breach of the boundaries is due, in fact, to the provisions of the 1937 Constitution and nothing else. That is the relevance of the quotation. I hope we have heard the last of the High Court action, because, in effect, what people are doing when they condemn the result of the High Court action is condemning the Constitution of this country. It is highly regrettable that that should be done.

There has been talk here about the justification of the distortion, to use Senator Lenihan's phrase, of representation in favour of the rural areas. That temptation existed when the 1935 Act was being passed. On that occasion, the then Minister for Local Government referred to it. The same temptation persisted in 1947 when the 1947 Act was being introduced, and on that occasion the Tánaiste had this to say about the relevant provisions of the Constitution—I quote from Volume 108, Column 920:

But if we endeavour to provide for the needs of the rural areas by maintaining, or, where permissible, increasing their present representation, we cannot, in an unjustifiable attempt to keep the membership of the Dáil to a minimum, endeavour to offset the increase in the membership allocated to rural communities by depriving the cities of their due and rightful representation in the Assembly of the Nation.

Of course we must always bear in mind that the then Minister for Local Government was a city Deputy but the present Minister for Local Government is a rural Deputy.

The Tánaiste, then Minister for Local Government, went on:

Indeed the Constitution forbids it, for subclause (3) of Clause 2 of Article 16 prescribes that so far as practicable the population ratio per member for each constituency shall be uniform throughout the country. Therefore if the representation accorded to rural areas is increased, or with a falling population therein is only maintained, the representation of the larger urban units must, in accordance with the principle of uniformity, be increased also, for beyond any doubt such an increase within the terms of the Constitution is quite practicable.

This is highly important and highly significant, for it shows how perspicacious the then Minister for Local Government was. He said:

It would not be equitable, for instance, to allot only one member to every 25,000 people in the County Borough of Dublin, while giving one for every 17,500 persons in some rural constituencies.

I want to ask what happened between 1947 and 1959 to make it equitable to do almost what the Tánaiste said would be inequitable— to allot one member to every 25,000 people in the County Borough of Dublin while giving one for every 17,500 persons in some rural constituencies?

Now, let me give some figures illustrating the inequalities and the inequitable position deliberately created under the 1959 Act. The first point I want to make is that under the 1935 Act the Minister for Local Government adverted with something in the nature of alarm to the decline in population in rural constituencies, and pointed out that in 13 constituencies out of 28, the population per Deputy was less than 20,000, and in five, the figure was less than 19,000. It is interesting and instructive to see what was the position under the 1959 Act. We find that out of 39 constituencies under the 1959 Act, 20, or more than half, were below 20,000 and 15 were under 19,000.

I want to digress for one moment to Senator Lenihan's offhand constitutional judgment upon the Acts of 1933 and 1935. In no place under the 1923 or the 1935 Act was the representation per Deputy less than 20,000, and upon one view of the 1922 and 1937 constituencies, in no case could it ever be less than 20,000, so that to that extent the 1923 and 1935 Acts were going a good distance to complying with the provisions of the Constitution that there should be not more than one member for every 20,000 of the population nor less than one for every 30,000.

We find that in the 1959 Act the lowest number of population per Deputy was to be found in the rural constituency of Galway South, where it had fallen, not to 17,500, of which the Tánaiste, who was Minister for Local Government in 1947, spoke, but to 16,575. For the highest representation per member in Dublin South-West, the figure was 23,128. The difference between the two is very close to the margin of 8,000 or 7,500 which the Tánaiste thought would be equitable. The difference under the 1959 Act was 6,553, less than 1,000, within striking distance of what the Tánaiste thought would be manifestly unjust and inequitable.

The Minister for Local Government and the members of the Fianna Fáil Party ought to realise that the proceedings of this House, and the proceedings of the Dáil, are available to anybody who wishes to inform himself. It is useless to try to hoodwink the people into believing that the extraordinary manner in which the Minister, for his own purposes and the purposes of his Party, has carved up the country is due to the result of the action taken in the High Court. Rather is it due to the provisions of the Constitution, the provisions which were taken over in 1937, and which could have been amended by ordinary legislation for three years after the first President had been elected.

It is relevant to remember in connection with the 1935 Act that two elections were based on it, one in June, 1937, and one in 1938. Whatever difficulties were attendant upon these particular constituencies were manifest in these two elections and during a period in which it was open to the Government to amend the Constitution, as they did, in fact, amend it, in 50 different respects by a simple Act of Parliament between 1937 and 1951.

With regard to the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, 1958, a piece of legislation which was defeated by the people, how did the Minister expect to keep within county boundaries if constituencies were single seat constituencies? Did the Government anticipate such a drop in population that there would be only 20,000 in every county? Would the Minister answer that question when he comes to reply? Would he explain to this House and to the country?

The plain fact of the matter is that this is a trumped-up excuse by the Government to cover up what Senator L'Estrange so ably demonstrated is an effort to defeat certain sitting Deputies and prospective candidates in the constituencies that have been, to put it mildly, so badly mauled in this measure.

The census taken in April last will show a substantial drop in population and there can be no doubt whatever that in the next revision of constituencies, county boundaries will also have to be broken into. It would be impossible in certain counties, which I shall not name, to give representation without adding on parts of adjoining areas. The failure of the Government to adhere to county boundaries is the beginning of an effort further to revise or amend the provisions of the Constitution governing elections to Dáil Éireann. This is part of the softening-up process. It is quite unlike the manner in which the Third Amendment of the Constitution was born, for that was born of the bald statement by the former Taoiseach, without consultation with anybody, that he intended to abolish proportional representation. Once he had said that, there was no going back on it.

That he was going to ask the people to abolish it and that he would submit the matter by way of referendum to the people.

Of course he had to submit it to the people. The newest means for getting around the decision of the people on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act is already in operation. I believe it is the intention and the purpose of the Government to create so much confusion under this Bill that they will convince the people that the provisions of the Constitution are unworkable and ought to be changed. You cannot fool all the people all the time, and you will not fool them any more than you did with the gigantic plan to run a Presidential election and a referendum on the same day. There was only one de Valera.

I think the Senator should refer to the President by his title.

I am speaking anterior to the time he became President.

You cannot be canonised and have all your sins forgiven simply because you attain to a particular office.

If the people could do it, they would.

This is a Bill upon which there may be a prolonged discussion on Committee Stage and, perhaps, it might be overtaxing the House to give them too much on the Second Stage tonight. However, I want to refer very briefly to some of the more outstanding features of the Bill.

The Minister has indicated that he thought it would be more appropriate to repeal the 1959 Electoral Act. I can quite understand the Minister wanting to wipe completely from the Statute Book the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 1959, because, as long as there is a reference to the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 1959, the state of decline about which he complained so bitterly and plaintively on the Fifth Stage of this Bill will continue. He wants to repeal it completely. We ought to pause before doing that. I do not believe—but I am quite certain the Minister will not pay any attention to what I am saying on this occasion, any more than he did on the last occasion.

If he has any sense, he will not.

But on the last occasion I was proved right. Senator O'Donovan was proved right; Senator Hayes was proved right; and Senator Sheehy Skeffington was proved right, and the Minister was proved so wrong that he did not even think it worth while to take an appeal.

The people will judge that.

The people will not be the judges upon this Bill at all in the next election. This will not be an issue. Let nobody attempt to persuade the members of this House that the reason the Taoiseach did not go to the Supreme Court was that he did not want to prolong the life of the Dáil. That does not convince anybody and, of course, Senators on that side of the House do not believe it at all. Remember what was at stake. There were four seats which Fianna Fáil lost because the 1959 Act was repealed. Let nobody tell me the Fianna Fáil Government would not spend public moneys in the longest possible appeal to the Supreme Court in order to retain four seats which are gone from them and gone for ever, unlike the British market. Gone for ever from Fianna Fáil is the seventh seat in Donegal, the seventh seat in Kerry, the ninth seat in Galway and the fifth seat in Wexford. The reason the Minister and the Taoiseach did not appeal is that they knew they were beaten and beaten badly and I will say this much for their intelligence: for once, they recognised they were beaten.

The Oireachtas has the duty of revising the constituencies once in every 12 years. The Minister's Party did not have much respect for the Constitution. They did not bring in the 1935 Act in time and they pleaded they were too busy with other matters. They did not bring in the 1959 Act in such time as would enable the President, if he so wished, to refer it to the Supreme Court, because it would have been out of time. The Constitution provides that the constituencies shall be revised once in 12 years and, constitutionally and legally speaking, the 1959 Act was a revision of the constituencies. All that has been done as far as this Act is concerned is that Section 3 (1), Section 4 and the Schedule to the Act have been declared invalid and upon their being declared invalid, this Act of 1959 is invalid to the extent of these sections.

There is a good stump on to which a good amending Bill can be drafted and the proper procedure, in my view, is to amend the 1959 Act, not to repeal it. Thus the Oireachtas keeps itself within the clear and specific direction of the Constitution to revise the constituencies once in 12 years. They have been revised, but the revision has been declared unlawful by the decision of the High Court. However, the Act by which they were revised is not entirely unconstitutional and the only way, and certainly the best way, of keeping within the provisions of the Constitution is to amend the 1959 Act.

This should not be a Bill repealing, as it does, in Section 9, the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 1959. In any event, it is not repealing the Electoral (Amendment) Act of 1959 because subsection (1) of Section 3, Section 4 and the Schedule are, by virtue of the provisions of the Constitution, unconstitutional and once they are pronounced unconstitutional, they are gone. To that extent, those provisions are incorrect. I suggest to the Minister that he should reconsider whether this should not be a Bill amending the 1959 Act. The Minister could do worse than listen to some of the advice he sometimes gets from this side of the House. We are not always wrong. The next thing I do not understand is the position in regard to the 1947 Act. That is already repealed but the repeal does not come into operation until the dissolution of the present Dáil. If that Act is already repealed, I do not see how we can repeal it a second time.

The only other matter arising is in relation to possible amendments to this Bill. If any Senator wishes to put down an amendment to this Bill, it will involve having the population figures not alone for counties and district electoral divisions but for townlands. The population figures of townlands which are mentioned in the Schedule to this Bill are not available in any publication. I want to ask you, a Chathaoirligh, to indicate, if you can, if there is any means by which members of the Seanad will be facilitated in obtaining figures for townlands for the purpose of putting down amendments to the Schedule, if any Senator wishes to do so. The omission is quite unusual in this respect. Unlike the Dáil, we are not in a position to put down questions to a Minister to elicit information. The only thing I think Senators can do in this case is to fall back on the Chair to indicate what the House ought to do to facilitate itself in the making of amendments to a Bill as important and as complicated as this measure.

I should like to refer Senator O'Quigley to the advice given by Senator Hayes when the 1959 Bill was before us. Senator Hayes on that occasion had the following to say as reported at Column 1019 of Volume 51 of the Official Reports of Seanad Éireann:

...as the Bill got a very full discussion in the other House, there is not very much left for us to do but to accept it as it comes to us from the other House, because it does, in fact, concern them exclusively.

I said a good deal more than that.

I am quoting the advice Senator Hayes gave at that time.

It is an emasculated quotation.

What did he say about the Constitution?

As this Bill also mainly concerns the other House and as the smokescreen by Fine Gael members here which has been floating around the document this evening may be liable to confuse people who read their speeches, I should like the House to have a look at what happened in the Dáil during the discussion of this Bill. I should like to refresh the minds of Senators on it.

This Bill about which we have heard so many derisive statements from the Fine Gael speakers was examined by the members of the Dáil at six sittings. Eight former members of the Coalition Government, a Parliamentary Secretary and nine Deputies who supported the Coalition Government took part in the debates.

The Second Reading debate occupied two sittings and the Bill was passed after a very thorough discussion by 69 to 47 votes, a majority of 22 in favour of the Bill. The debate in Committee also occupied two sittings, during which there were four divisions. In view of what we have heard here this evening, the results of these divisions are of interest. In the first division, a Labour amendment relating to the constituency of North-East Cork was defeated by 65 to 11 votes. Only three Fine Gael Deputies voted, such was their interest in the matter. They were Deputies Mulcahy, Sweetman and O'Sullivan. In spite of the atrocious provisions of the Bill, about which we have heard this evening, they voted with the Government against the Labour amendment.

In the second division, that the proposed new constituency of North-East Cork be approved, none of the Fine Gael Deputies voted. The proposal was carried on that occasion by 59 to 13 votes. Then there was a third division, on the new constituency of SouthWest Cork. It was approved by 63 to 6 votes. Deputy Wycherley, Independent, voted with the Government. The minority was composed of six Labour Deputies. Once again, the Fine Gael Party had such little interest that they did not vote.

The fourth division came on the proposal, relating to Waterford. A Labour amendment was defeated by 67 to 23 votes. On this occasion, while Fine Gael were able to muster 14, Labour could find only five of its members to support its amendment. Three voters were Independents. Waterford has been quoted as one of the constituencies which was badly carved up during the drawing-up of this Bill.

Then we come to the Report Stage which occupied one sitting of the Dáil. There was no division on this occasion. Deputies Cosgrave and Esmonde had amendments down but withdrew them, after discussion. The Fifth Stage was passed at one sitting by 68 to 39 votes. On this occasion, 28 members of Fine Gael were mustered to vote. The majority in favour of the Bill there was 29.

What is all this intended to prove?

The debate and divisions showed that neither Fine Gael nor Labour had any heart in their shadow-boxing in the Dáil, any more than they have any heart in their shadow-boxing here in the Seanad, in spite of the loquacity of Senators L'Estrange and O'Donovan. While most of them in the Dáil—which is the House directly concerned—would have preferred the 1959 Bill, they were able to make no effective case against the 1961 Bill.

The very voluble Leader of the Opposition, Deputy Dillon, in a five minute speech—the shortest speech he ever made in the Dáil, I should think, or anywhere else——

And therefore the best.

——threw in the sponge at the start. He urged the Dáil to pass the Bill quickly so that arrangements could be made for the general election. Deputy Dillon gave the keynote for most of the Opposition speeches that followed and for most of the Opposition speeches we heard here today. He alleged that the Bill was an attempt to gerrymander. Strange to say, Deputy Dillon had no sense of the ridiculous, because a few minutes later, he admitted that any effective gerrymandering could not be done in this part of Ireland. To confirm that, his Fine Gael colleague, Deputy Lindsay, former Minister for the Gaeltacht, found himself in agreement with it. He repudiated Deputy Dillon's original allegation by emphasising that it is not now possible for anybody to count the Fine Gael, Fianna Fáil, Labour or Independent votes in any constituency in this part of Ireland in advance.

Then we come to the Labour Party. The Leader of the Labour Party, Deputy Corish, thought nobody could criticise the distribution of seats or the arrangement of constituencies vis-à-vis the population. He torpedoed his own suggestion of what he described as “legal gerrymandering” by confirming that the Bill would not have any great effect on the general election, when it came.

No, because you are going out one way or another.

The former Leader of the Labour Party in the Dáil and former Tánaiste in the Coalition Government, Deputy Norton, having complained of the departure from the traditional boundaries of county boundaries, said he could not blame the Government for it in the circumstances because something had to be done quickly in view of the High Court decision, the 1959 Act and the proximity of the general election.

A former Parliamentary Secretary and Leader of the Clann na Talmhan Party at one time, Deputy Donnellan, agreed that it was the best the Government could do in the circumstances and that the Bill goes as near as possible to produce representation for every 20,000 electors. Referring to the proposed addition of a part of his constituency of Waterford to South Tipperary, Deputy Kyne of the Labour Party admitted that his own Party might take the same action, if they were in power. So much for all the tripe we have heard about the massacre of Waterford and the terrible thing that happened in regard to South Tipperary.

That is not typical of what he would say. It is taken out of its context.

Deputy O'Donnell, who is well known to all the Fine Gael members of this House, expressed the hope that the Bill would be passed quickly. As the former Minister for Local Government in the last coalition, Deputy O'Donnell was well acquainted with the snags which are met in drafting a Bill of this type. He knew also, as he admitted in the debate on the 1959 Bill—and this should be remembered by the Fine Gael Senators who spoke here today—that it is most difficult to arrange such a revision of constituencies without a charge of political corruption or gerrymander.

On a point of order, if a Senator mentions a Deputy's name and quotes from the Dáil Reports, is it not usual to give the volume and column number? The Leader of the House has quoted at least seven or eight different times and has not given the volume or column number.

Any direct quotation which I make, I shall give it but up to now I have not given a direct quotation. The date of Deputy O'Donnell's statement is 8th October, 1959, at column 415.

1959? I thought it was this Bill we were talking about.

The Senator went back to 1922.

I understood that the Senator was quoting the debate on this Bill.

Yes, I am quoting the debate on this Bill. I am referring to a statement made by Deputy O'Donnell in the debate on the 1959 Bill. Now we come to the piéce de résistance of the whole lot—Deputy Ryan, the solicitor in the case against the 1959 Bill.

A very competent one he was.

He waxed eloquent on the theme that this Bill is constitutional; that it respects the Constitution; that it answers the ratio between the number of members in any constituency and the population of that constituency which as far as practicable should be the same throughout the country and that every man would go to the polling booth knowing that his vote would have an equal influence in the selection of the Government. That was the theme which Senator L'Estrange was pleading in the 1959 debate in the Seanad.

Is this 1961?

Can the Senator give us the volume and the column number of that, so that we can check it?

Does the Senator not know well that he said it?

We are entitled to know the volume and to be told the column number. We want to check these things for Committee Stage.

It is usual to give references when there is a quotation. If the references are not available, they can be made available.

It is volume 188, column 280.

Was it the truth that they would wipe out Fine Gael?

Such remarks on this Bill are utterly disorderly.

The same Deputy Ryan with the usual hypocrisy of Fine Gael had it both ways. He voted against the Bill having praised it originally in the particular parts with which he was concerned. I prefer to take the views of an independent analyst to the views of the Fine Gael Deputies or Senators in this Oireachtas. I regard Mr. Garrett Fitzgerald who wrote the series of articles in the Irish Times——

He is an economist and not a lawyer.

——as a responsible public critic on economic affairs. Mr. Garrett Fitzgerald, for the information of Senator O'Quigley, was one of the original editorial board of the Fine Gael lions, young people, of the National Observer with which possibly Senator O'Quigley had something to do. Mr. Garrett Fitzgerald is still an avowed supporter of Fine Gael. He certainly has no leanings towards Fianna Fail that I am aware of. Having analysed in three articles in the Irish Times the provisions of this Bill——

A legal expert.

——Mr. Fitzgerald comes to a conclusion. Here is what he said in the Irish Times on 15th April:

It seems clear that the Government has gone a long distance in endeavouring to achieve a close mathematical relationship between the ratio of Deputies to 1956 population in all the constituencies.

Having analysed the proposed changes, he comes to the conclusion that: "This new Bill contains no flagrant attempt to gerrymander the country" as has been alleged by certain gentlemen here. Then he went on to ask whether any attempt was made to rig the constituency boundaries in any area in favour of the Government Party. He decided, on his analysis of the Bill and his study of the maps, that the changes did not in themselves contain overt evidence of political bias.

This is great stuff.

I prefer to follow the verdict of an independent observer who writes in the daily Press to the biassed, bigoted and distorted views of Senators like Senator L'Estrange and Senator O'Quigley.

Who have already been proved right.

I am quite satisfied that the public at large who read responsible newspapers and responsible articles by responsible journalists will have more interest in reading the detailed and reasoned analysis of public affairs made by a gentleman of Mr. Garrett Fitzgerald's eminence than in reading the fulminations of Senator O'Quigley and Senator L'Estrange.

Would the Senator——

Oh, shut up. Quite a number of Senators here to-day waxed eloquent on the Constitution.

On a point of order, is it in order for one member of the House to address another member of the House by telling him to shut up?

It is not in order and neither is it in order for the other member of the House to interrupt as he has been interrupting. These interruptions are going a little too far.

As I was saying before I was rudely and ignorantly interrupted, many Senators have waxed eloquent on the Constitution. It gives me and everybody on this side of the House great satisfaction to see those stout defenders of the Constitution now when I remember how they misrepresented the document in 1937 when it was put before the people, but I am inclined to wonder whether all this alleged allegiance to the Constitution now and admiration for its provisions by some of these gentlemen are genuine.

I do not like the constant reference of Senator O'Quigley and Senator L'Estrange to "your Constitution." It is not the Fianna Fáil Constitution; it is not our Constitution. It is the Constitution of Ireland enacted by the people in a free plebiscite, despite the opposition of Fine Gael and, as such, it should not be described as "your Constitution." I hope these learned gentlemen over there will take note of that and realise that in continuously referring to the Constitution, which is now the fundamental law of this country, in that disparaging way, they are not creating confidence in public institutions which they prate so much about in other parts when they leave this House.

Who contravened the Constitution in 1959?

Senator Burke made some reference in the background in the course of a series of interruptions to the would-be dictatorship of the Blueshirts in 1934 who attempted to overthrow the Government. It is well to learn, for the record, that had this conspiracy succeeded, we might not now be able to conduct business in a State assembly of this kind.

The Senator would not have this type of freedom of speech, either.

Or this kind of blackguardism.

Senators O'Quigley and L'Estrange have referred to blackguardism. It would be very interesting and educative to the Senators to go back over the history of that period, and though I am strongly tempted to do so, I will not do it now. I shall satisfy myself with this reference to the dictatorship employed by Senator Hayes, particularly, Senator L'Estrange and others on that side of the House. They are permitted to refer to the events of 1922, to the events of 1925 and to the Blueshirts, but if anybody on this side of the House makes any reference to the attempted coup d'état in 1934 and to the successful coup d'état in 1922, he is talking politics and is accused of bringing the proceedings of the Seanad into disrepute. When we try to defend ourselves, it is all right for Senator Hayes, with unctuous effrontery, to say that the Leader of this House has no sense of the dignity of the House. But I will not be browbeaten or sit here while distortions of history are perpetrated. So long as I am here and distortions of that kind are made, I shall stand to refute them in the interests of historical accuracy and for the sake of the records. If those gentlemen want to put down a motion on 1922 or 1925 or 1934 they can do so and we shall be very glad to debate it.

According to Senator O'Quigley, the Minister carved up the country for his own purposes and those of his Party. Senator O'Quigley appears to be terribly upset by the fact that these new constituencies transgress county boundaries. During the debate on the 1959 Bill in this House, as reported at column 1051 of Volume 51 of the Official Report, he saw no harm in it and in fact advocated the system. Here is exactly what he said:

Under the new Health Authorities Act, it is proposed, with apparently no difficulty whatever, to constitute several counties and parts of counties into new health authority areas that can be administered quite well. It is expected that they can be administered quite well under the new Bill. I cannot see any reason why constituencies cannot be drawn differently from the manner in which they have been drawn up to the present time, somewhat on the same basis—not necessarily the health authority basis—but it could be done. The county boundaries and the siting of towns and so on, are not the be-all and the end-all of representation in Parliament.

This is the same gentleman who can now weep salt tears about the fact that bits of counties are added on to other counties to form new constituencies, the same thing he himself advocated during the debate on the 1959 Bill.

Senator L'Estrange might like to be reminded of what he said at that time. He will find it in column 1059 of the same volume:

That is what the Constitution says but in this Bill there is over-representation in the West of Ireland, and under-representation in the City of Dublin. I stand for parity, equal rights, and equal powers for all Irish men and women, no matter what part of the country they may be living in.

I still stand by that.

Now he gets a Bill which gives equal rights and an average of 20,000 voters per seat and yet he made the speech we were compelled to listen to today. Is there any end to the effrontery and hypocrisy he is capable of?

But let us come back to Senator Hayes. The Constitution of 1937, he said, was lauded to the skies and put before the people in a fraudulent manner and he had the brazen neck to compare it with the Constitution of the Free State of 1922, forgetting completely that the Constitution of that Free State was put before the people of these Twenty-Six Counties on the morning of the poll, in June, 1922. The Constitution of Ireland which was enacted by the people of Ireland in 1937 was put before the people in April, 1937, and there was public debate on it for three months before it was submitted to a plebiscite of the people. Senator Hayes must feel that we are all very stupid, that we have not lived through the period or read the history of the period.

The Constitution of 1922 was not enacted until December, 1922.

The Constitution of 1922 was published in the newspapers on the morning of the poll.

It was not a poll on the Constitution.

It was not, but the Constitution was used to delude the people into breaking the pact, which it succeeded in doing. I remember in 1957 and 1958 when Senator L'Estrange threatened me with Señor Castro of Cuba. I do not hear any threats now quoting his hero of those days. They must have turned sour in his mind.

I referred to the Senator's efforts as being the same as those of Castro.

His sugar-daddy is now full of gall and wormwood. We were threatened by Senator Hayes as well that we might have plenty of time to read the Constitution, but whatever the reference to Castro and the Constitution was, I am not too clear. One thing I know for certain is that the difference between Castro and the Fianna Fáil Party, which Senator Hayes attempted to reconcile by talking about one-party dictatorships, is that if ever there was a party in this country who submitted themselves to the electorate and had no hesitation in going to the people when they thought that was required, it is Fianna Fáil, and when there was any doubt as to whether or not the people still supported the Government or whether the Government required a vote of confidence in its policy, the Fianna Fáil leadership had no hesitation in going to the country.

It strikes me that the fulminations of the Fine Gael Party against this Bill are in the hope that by some mischance something will happen within the next 12 months and that in the meantime the Government will try to prolong the life of the present Dáil and keep things going for another year. Fine Gael would much prefer to have seen the Government bring in a Bill to prolong the life of the Dáil in the hope that something will happen in the next 12 months to save the already desperate position in which Fine Gael find themselves as a result of the failure of their leadership to produce the policy promised by them. I know the truth is bitter, but I sat here all evening listening to the other people——

And never said a word!

——I conducted myself with dignity. I do not propose to allow the threats of Senator Hayes that if we do not conduct ourselves, the Bill will be delayed, the interruptions of Senator O'Donovan, the jeers of Senator L'Estrange or the sarcastic grin of Senator O'Quigley to prevent me if I feel I have something to say. There is no doubt that the debate in this House on the Bill from the Fine Gael side was even more shadowy than the shadow-boxing indulged in by Fine Gael in the Dáil. The effects of this Bill will be to increase the representation in the cities at the expense of rural Ireland. Fine Gael wanted it that way, apparently, and now they have got their wish.

The Government were quite rightly anxious that the life of the Dáil should not be prolonged beyond the regulation time. The dissolution is due in March next. The enactment of this measure will enable the elections to be held at the right time. The people will then get the opportunity to prove once again to the Fine Gael Party, and particularly to Senator O'Quigley and Senator L'Estrange, that honesty is the best policy.

The enactment of this measure became necessary when a citizen exercised his constitutional right and challenged successfully the Electoral (Amendment) Act, 1959, in the High Court. When this Bill was introduced, it seemed to comply with the requirements of the Constitution as far as could reasonably be expected from a political Party in power. The Government are to be complimented on their wisdom in refraining from appealing to the Supreme Court against the decision of the High Court. Their wise inaction also gave considerable relief to a particular member of this House! I should like to express his appreciation, even though the indirect, lengthy and literary announcement of that decision in the Town Hall in Sligo late on a Saturday night by the Minister for Health was scarcely intended to benefit that Senator politically.

That is what one calls a good speech, Sir—no abuse of anybody.

And nobody interrupted him.

I should like to commence by saying what has been said in the Dáil previously and what should be said by everybody, that this is a chapter in a book in which there may be four, five or six chapters. Certain gentlemen die hard. Fianna Fáil are like those gentlemen. Chapter 1 was the referendum to abolish P.R. I was amused to hear the Leader of the House reply to Senator Hayes and make the case that the 1922 Constitution was voted on at a time when the people might not have known about it and when it could have been allied with other causes. He went on to say that the 1937 Constitution was voted on freely after three months debate in the House and that everyone knew everything about it. He forgot that the referendum to which I refer was allied with another election—the election in which a Taoiseach who had been successful in maintaining his post for 17 years was seeking election as a President. That was Chapter 1. Chapter 2 was the 1959 Act, which was declared unconstitutional; and Chapter 3 is this Bill.

This Bill is the result of the declaration by the courts that the 1959 Act was unconstitutional. The wording of the Constitution leaves the greatest licence to the Oireachtas to fix the constituencies in a desirable manner. Article 16, Section 2, of the Constitution says:

The number of members shall from time to time be fixed by law, but the total number of members of Dáil Éireann shall not be fixed at less than one member for each thirty thousand of the population or at more than one member for each twenty thousand of the population.

That means, when you take into account the sections following, referring to the ratio of the number of members to the population of each constituency, that the Government at any time can fix a ratio of members to population anywhere between 20,000 and 30,000. Obviously, those who drew up the Constitution made it so in order that the administrative boundaries could quite easily be accommodated. The position was that such dictates were not followed. There were changes from 1922 on, and all these changes fell to be carried out by a Fianna Fáil majority in the Houses of the Oireachtas. The position of the Opposition is extremely difficult in such circumstances. If you seek a change from what the Government have done, you may well be jumping from the frying pan into the fire.

I mean no personal offence when I say I sincerely believe that the Government, supported by the gentlemen opposite, are quite capable of fixing things to suit themselves; but if you change, you are creating a situation in which there can be wholesale change, where changes can occur in every constituency and the Opposition can be made the excuse for this. For that reason, the Opposition did not make a bid to bring about a change. But in the 1959 Act an individual did make a bid and what preceded that is well known.

The situation which had developed was that, notwithstanding that clear direction of the Constitution, the constituencies of Dublin North (Central), Dublin South (Central), Dublin SouthEast, Carlow-Kilkenny, Dublin County, Leix - Offaly, Longford - Westmeath, Wexford, Wicklow, Cork (West), North Kerry, South Kerry, West Limerick, North Tipperary, South Tipperary, Waterford, West Galway, South Galway, North Galway, North Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Cavan, West Donegal, East Donegal and Monaghan were unconstitutional. That was the situation in which an individual decided, notwithstanding the fact that he had not been directed to do so with the full support of the Party, to go forward as an aggrieved person. The Constitution specified that there could be a latitude of 10,000 of the population. Could anybody have been more guilty? Could anything have been more patently obvious? I am sure you cannot define that condemnation as shadow-boxing.

Another more important point arises from the court proceedings. I have investigated that point as far as I possibly could by inquiring, by reading the court proceedings and other means and there is no direction by the court as a result of that action that the deviation shall be limited—as far as one constituency relates to another—to 1,000 or less. There is merely reference by the judge to the fact that on the first occasion it had been found possible to fix the constituencies with such a small deviation from the national average. There is no direction, nor is there any question of the judge giving his opinion that it is necessary, to fix these constituencies to give a deviation not greater than 1,000.

The question then arises as to whether, if there is no such deviation, there can be gerrymandering. The case is made by the Government speakers that if the Government are completely tied down to having practically no deviation as between one constituency and another, there can be no gerrymandering. That is quite incorrect. I would explain that by saying that it would be just as if you had two horse races at a race meeting and in one race there was a favourite who was so obviously better than the other horses carrying the same weights in that race that he would win. If he were removed from that race and put into a race in which there was a much higher class of horses, he would not win and some other horse would win the race. If you have a slice of one constituency where there is say a strong Fine Gael majority and that constituency can always elect two out of three Fine Gael candidates and you remove that strong Fine Gael slice and put it into a constituency where Fine Gael require 5,000 or 6,000 increase in votes to elect two out of three Fine Gael candidates, that is dirty political gerrymandering. If at the same time— and this effort will not succeed—it was quite possible to avoid taking one of the principal towns of a county out of that county and putting it outside its administrative boundary and into another county, and that was not done, that is dirty, rotten, political gerrymandering and must be so defined.

I am referring, of course, to the removal of the Louth area including the town of Ardee to Monaghan. When I discuss that, I must discuss four counties. The Fianna Fáil Party knew quite well that they had not the chance of a snowball in Hades of getting two out of three in Kildare because Deputy Norton and Deputy Sweetman were strongly entrenched there.


The only time Fianna Fáil came near to getting two in Kildare was in 1957 when the then Government had done patriotic and unpopular things and Deputy Sweetman was the instrument by which they were done. So, the Fianna Fáil Party, notwithstanding that there is no reason for it, decide that they will enlarge Kildare until it holds four seats, in the hope that they will get two of them, Deputy Norton and Deputy Sweetman getting the other two. They decided, at the same time, that the way to increase it was to take a bit out of Meath and Westmeath and to be sure to take a piece of Meath from the area in which the sitting Fine Gael Deputy lived. Then they felt they were lessening the opportunity of Fine Gael getting two seats in Meath.

These moves are all based on the form of races or elections of the past and there is no greater student of form than the Minister for Local Government. Then, the thing to do was to take from Louth an area that was strongly Fine Gael and put it into Monaghan. Then they hope—this is the hope—that in Louth we will not get two out of the three as we quite easily would have done and that, in Monaghan, the strongly Fine Gael slice that has been moved will merely increase the Fine Gael vote there.

That was their desire and intention but it will not be realised and I shall tell the Minister why. The move will fail because we in Louth, thank God, are blessed with the two laziest Fianna Fáil politicians in Western Europe. The other Fianna Fáil politicians in Western Europe would probably include Marshal Tito.

We are pretty broadly based.

I shall go to figures to show exactly what the position is. Senator Carter may smile, but here are figures that will prove what I say. At the time when we were most unpopular in Louth, the Labour vote was very small. It was 1,400. Fianna Fáil, in 1957, got 14,644 and we got 12,600. All that is needed there is a swing of 1,000 and we shall get that, anyway. Louth has swung as is quite obvious to me and I know Louth because I am the only one who does any work there and who resides in Louth.

It is surprising that the Senator is not in the Dáil.

I was defeated with the second largest poll in the country.

So was Senator Carter who told the Minister to say that. The Senator could not say it himself because he was defeated.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


I shall be back in the fight presently.

So will Senator Donegan.

We shall see.

Since the Minister did interject, I should like to remind him that the late Senator Moylan— God rest his soul—was defeated with exactly 50 votes more than I had.

That does not prove anything in your case.

The Minister is barking up the wrong tree.

Is that where you are drawing hope from?

My point is that it would be much easier for us to defeat Fianna Fáil, if things were left as they were in Louth. We shall defeat them anyway, but if you move——


An Leas-Chathaoirleach


If you move a strongly Fine Gael portion of Louth into Monaghan and look at the figures for Monaghan, it then becomes clear that the desire was to nullify Fine Gael votes, to give Fine Gael more votes in Monaghan and to prevent them from electing an extra Fine Gael candidate. At the last election in Monaghan, the figures were: Fianna Fáil, 10,639; Fine Gael, 6,319. I have already moved the Minister to interject and I know quite well that his mind ran exactly on the lines I have indicated. He can smile and he can sneer as much as he likes. That is why he moved a slice of Louth into Monaghan. There was no need at all to do the extraordinary thing he did with Kildare. There was no need to move the entire 8,000 or 9,000 persons he needed for Monaghan, even if he wanted to get that wonderful national average he talks about.

They have now a principal town in Louth, the town of Ardee, which has its town commissioners and they have to deal with the Louth county manager. This town, as far as local administration is concerned, has to deal with the Louth County Council, but at the same time it is in the constituency of Monaghan. I know that in a country area perhaps it would not be quite so serious, but in a town of that kind things which are required by the county council can crop up. For instance, not so long ago the town of Drogheda sought guarantees for money to dredge the River Boyne from three county councils, but if the town of Ardee wanted something to further its industries, or to extend, and it sought guarantees of that sort, where would it go? Would it have the strength and support of a Deputy who was not depending on the votes of the people there? It is the only town I know of that size that has been moved from one side to another. It is quite obvious to the people why it has been moved.

I want to say that at a protest meeting in Ardee, I announced that I had given friends of mine in the town details of what would be done down to the last townland. I told them that it was being done and I knew it was being done. I said that from the day on which the Bill was first issued, there would be no amendment to it. At that protest meeting I said I felt it would be much better, if there had to be a change, to create a Louth-Monaghan constituency. Of course that would not suit the Government, either, because out of the six, Fine Gael would obviously get three. We would not have to struggle at all. If this Louth-Monaghan constituency were created, the position would be this. Louth has a population, or had a population, of over 69,000 people and Monaghan of over 51,000, making a total of over 121,000 and if the Minister wanted to stick to his national average, which I maintain he does not have to stick to, then if he divides six into that total, he would be very near to it indeed.

I would have desired to put down an amendment that there should be a Louth-Monaghan constituency but I went to the Leader of our Party and to a Party meeting, and so that this Bill would not be delayed, and knowing the Government would not accept that amendment, I was instructed, and accepted that instruction, not to put down the amendment. The reason I mention that is the accusations levelled across the floor by Senator Ó Maoláin to the effect that we would be very happy if this election were delayed for two years. No amendment, outside those for Dublin, has been put down expressly so that this Bill would not be delayed because, quite frankly, we are very anxious to get at them. We are just waiting for the election because I can assure Fianna Fáil— they may not know it themselves because they have lost touch with the people—that they are going to get a surprise. There is no doubt that their numbers will be very depleted not only in the other House but in this House, when the next Dáil and Seanad come to sit.

Finally, it has been said that Fine Gael have been inclined to demean the Constitution and to over-criticise the Constitution. Senator Ó Maoláin made those allegations and it is better that they be replied to. The most demeaning thing that was done to the Constitution since it was enacted was the continuance of a situation and the enlargement of that situation whereby the list of constituencies, certainly more than two-thirds, which I read out, were repugnant to the Constitution. If anybody wants the section of the Constitution where the Oireachtas is instructed not to enact anything that is repugnant to the Constitution, I will give it to him.

As well as that, the President is instructed to see that no Act goes through which is repugnant to the Constitution and to that end he puts his signature on each Act passed by the Oireachtas. Both the previous President and the present President were former members of the Fianna Fáil Party and persons who had been involved, at Cabinet level, in the most detailed work on constituencies and the political arrangements for electing the Oireachtas. They put their names to those Acts so that if Fianna Fáil want to criticise us on that basis, they have got to criticise the present President and the man who preceded him. If they wish to do that, I do not mind. We are not doing it and if they want to, they can look at the signatures placed on every Act which went through since 1937 and if they look at the redivision of constituencies in 1947 and 1959, they will find the signatures there. If they want to go further, they can read the judgment of the High Court. Those are the simple facts so that any criticism of anything we might say in that respect is direct criticism of two of their Presidents.

I should like to wish Senator O'Quigley and Senator O'Donovan the best of luck in their respective speeches. I have a feeling that their speeches were not directed at this side of the House so much as to the members of their own Party, those members of their own Party who were not as enthusiastic about the recent activities of Senator O'Quigley and Senator O'Donovan as they appeared to be about those activities themselves. I hope that for their sake their respective apologia are acceptable to the members of their Party but I beg leave to doubt it.

The task of arranging constituencies in accordance with the Constitution, on the one hand, and having regard to administrative problems on the other, is certainly no easy one. It is a very difficult task and I do not think anybody in this House would be foolhardy enough to say there is an ideal solution, or an ideal arrangement of constituencies. Administratively, there is no doubt that the 1959 Act was a better Act, but the court has ruled that t is invalid. We must accept that, and we do accept it. In accepting it, one cannot but regret that certain members of the Fine Gael Party went out of their way to deprive rural constituencies of reasonable representation. However, the members of Fine Gael who did that, like the majority of Fine Gael, are completely out of touch with rural problems and difficulties, which explains, if it does not excuse, their apparent indifference to the problems of rural Ireland.

Reference has been made by a number of speakers to the Constitution, and to the fact that a number of Bills introduced in the past by Fianna Fáil have been found invalid and repugnant to the Constitution. The Constitution was brought in as a guide to the Executive, and as a guide to the Legislature. It is the job of the Constitution to make sure that the Executive do not go off the rails. That is a very necessary safeguard because even the best-intentioned Government, or the best-intentioned Executive or Legislature, can from time to time make mistakes. As a matter of fact, it is true to say that the better intentioned the Government are, the more enthusiastic they are about their programme and policy, the more likely they are to do something which, although from the short-term point of view, may appear to be good, from the long term point of view, might not be wise. That is why the Constitution is there.

Certainly there is no doubt that the Fianna Fáil Government in the past have had Bills turned down, but it must be remembered that during the past 30 years Fianna Fáil have introduced an immense number of worthwhile Bills. The fact that a few of those Bills turned out to be repugnant to the Constitution is not anything of which Fianna Fáil need be ashamed. As I say, the Constitution was there to deal with that very situation. We are proud that the Constitution was there, and that it proved itself capable of dealing with such a situation.

The Bill was intended to look after yourselves, and you should be ashamed of it.

It would be a useless Constitution, a mere piece of paper, if, in all those years, it had never been invoked to say that a particular Bill was not in strict accordance with its provisions.

The Bill was to look after yourselves, not the people.

It would be merely a useless document. We are proud of that Constitution; we are proud of the good it has done over the years; we are proud of the reception it was given by the people when it was introduced, in spite of the fraudulent opposition to it by the Opposition at that time; and are proud, above all, of the fundamental difference between that Constitution and the Constitution devised by the Cumann na nGaedheal Government and dedicated to his Majesty the King.

You were Cumann na nGaedheal at that time.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


He certainly was. There is no "seadh" or "ní headh" about it.

They had time to change their opinion.

Do you agree with it or do you not? Do not try to shelve your responsibilities.

It is quite clear that the Bill was intended to look after yourselves and you should be ashamed of it. It was declared repugnant to the Constitution and it was designed to suit yourselves, not the people.

Our courts are still functioning under the 1922 Constitution.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Order! This cross-talk must cease.

The Senator had nothing whatever to do with that fact.

As much as you had.

Nothing to do with that fact.

As much as you had.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Order! Deputy Ryan, on the Bill.

Obviously, there are many schemes which could be introduced in the constituencies.

"Schemes" is right.

If every person in this House were given an opportunity of bringing in a Bill of this kind, I am sure all of us would bring in a somewhat different Bill. There is no doubt that the majority of us would bring in a Bill which would be substantially the same as the Bill which the Minister has put before us. No matter what Bill was brought in, there would be criticism. I suppose it is too much to expect that members of Fine Gael, and in particular the Leader of Fine Gael, would not abuse the opportunity to talk about gerrymandering. Fine Gael know quite well that this Bill is not gerrymandering. They know quite well that no scheme can improve the chances of Fine Gael in the next general election.

The chances of Fianna Fáil.

They are determined to make cheap propaganda out of this Bill and they are making that propaganda because they have very little else to say about the policy of the Government.

The policy of the Government is not in question on this Bill.

It is easy to suggest, because a bit of County A was put into County B, when some member here thinks that a bit of County B should have been put into County A, that that is gerrymandering. The example given by Senator Donegan proved that not only were Fianna Fáil not gerrymandering to their own advantage, but, if anything, they were leaning over backwards to be favourable to Fine Gael Deputies. Strangely and astoundingly, Senator Donegan gave Kildare as an example. In the last general election, in County Kildare, Deputy Sweetman very nearly lost his seat. He nearly lost it by so few votes that it would be unfair to remind the Seanad at the moment how close it was.

How many? You can tell us if you want to.

Kildare was a three-seat constituency and under this Bill the Minister has made it a four-seat constituency, which means that Deputy Sweetman is pretty sure of his seat.

And Fianna Fáil will get two.

If a Fine Gael Minister for Local Government had expanded Kildare from a three-seat to a four-seat constituency, bearing in mind the close shave Deputy Sweetman had the last time——

Devil a shave at all.

——Fianna Fáil would have legitimate cause for suspicion that the Fine Gael Minister had done so to save Deputy Sweetman's seat.

Cod—he needed only 233 votes in the first count for the quota.

That was the constituency taken by Senator Donegan to prove that Fianna Fáil are gerrymandering to their own advantage. If they are doing anything at all, they are saving Deputy Sweetman's seat for him. Good luck to him, because he has enough to contend with in his own Party without having to worry about his constituency as well.

This Party is not like the Fianna Fáil Party. There are not factions.

I am sorry in a way that Fine Gael should have descended to this ridiculous propaganda. It is quite clear that no matter how many hoops they jump through, or what else they try to do, this Bill will finally go through and a general election will finally be held. When that general election is held, Fine Gael will have to face the people and to account for their behaviour and their policy, or their lack of policy, over the past years.

We faced it in Sligo-Leitrim and beat you and we will face it anywhere in the morning.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


Tell us about the £100,000,000 plan and all the new jobs.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


Fine Gael have very little to say about economic policy, and they are reduced to these ridiculous long quotations from the past which we had from Senator O'Quigley about Electoral Bills introduced in 1922 and 1932 and 1942, under all of which, no matter who introduced them or what shape or size the constituencies had, Fine Gael did equally badly. They will do equally badly in the next election.

That is what you are hoping for.

We have had a fairly prolonged debate on this measure, and a variety of views have been expressed. The Minister and the Government have been accused of all sorts of gerrymandering and manipulation and so on. It was admitted in the debate on the former Bill in 1959 politicians had to consider the practicability, if you will, of rearranging constituencies, and in the course of this debate and, indeed, elsewhere, considerable argument arose about the Constitution. Most Senators will agree that the Constitution is there like a rock and that it can be invoked at any particular time by the most humble citizen.

Taking that into account, I do not think that any fault can be found with that position, but when we come to consider a Bill or indeed any kind of legislation dealing with rearrangements of constituencies, we have to take into consideration the practical possibilities of that rearrangement, and we contend now that we set out to be as lenient as possible to the rural areas. We made no bones about that both here and elsewhere and I do not think that the Fine Gael Party did, either. At least if they did, the members of the Fine Gael Party did not reveal their intentions until very late in the day.

We asserted all along that so far as the Fianna Fáil Party were concerned, in supporting the Government, we did not like the idea of breaching county bounds, and the Minister made that clear time and again. He also made clear the point about the impracticability of doing so, the hardship involved on the rural population, and indeed he stressed on Second Reading and the various Stages of the Bill and elsewhere that he did not like the idea and that it was in conflict more or less with his opinion as a practical politician. That could be deemed to be the attitude of some of the Fine Gael Party also, but, as one could rightly say, Fine Gael decided later on, when they saw maybe some advantage, to divide on the matter. Ancient Gaul divided into three parts and Fine Gael divided into two parts.

Arising then from that, we have this Bill. I think that in our circumstances no great blame can be attached to the Minister or to the Government for having due regard to that phrase "so far as is practicable." We all know what the relevant Articles of the Constitution provide, but it is not always easy to relate that mathematically and accurately to the practicalities of politics. I think I am right in saying that those who decided the issue had no regard whatever to the ideas of practical politicians and it was considered mainly in the light of conflict with the relevant Article of the Constitution. Nevertheless, I believe that practical politicans have a place in a democracy. This is a free country and we can have our point of view, too. The people, as was said earlier on, effected and gave force to the Constitution. I wind up that point by saying that, in my opinion and in the opinion of any fairminded person, no great blame can be attached to the Government for taking into consideration the difficulties involved for practical politicans.

I will refer to certain leading lights in the Opposition, and I quote from one, an ex-Minister for Local Government. Deputy O'Donnell said at column 405 of volume 177 of the Official Report:

It is most difficult to arrange such a revision of constituencies without a charge of political corruption or gerrymandering.

Apparently Deputy O'Donnell was fully aware of what was involved. Apparently Senator Donegan is not. Simply because a rearrangement had to be effected as between Louth and Monaghan, the Senator denounces the rearrangement in very strong language. I think the Senator would find many members of his own Party who would disagree with the views he expressed here this evening.

For instance?

I am sure Deputy O'Donnell would, an ex-Minister for Local Government, or any experienced Deputy. Deputy O'Donnell's statement, which I have quoted, is completely opposed to what Senator Donegan said here this evening.

Deputy O'Donnell does not know the area.

I think he does. He had every opportunity of knowing it just as well as the Senator.

He lives a couple of hundred miles away from it. That is the disadvantage.

Most people would agree with the sentiment expressed by Deputy O'Donnell. The Minister was blamed for not seeking a decision on the 1959 Act at a higher level. There, again, the Constitution enters into the picture. The Act could be referred by any citizen or by the President on the advice of the Council of State. Remembering that only parts of the 1959 Act were found wanting, I think the Minister took the proper course in bringing in the new Bill. Considering this measure from the point of view of the work involved in our constituencies and from the point of view of the shift in population——

200,000 gone to England.

——it is obvious that we shall find it even more difficult in future to ensure that we are within the law in dealing with the practical problem of shifting populations. We are hopeful, however, that with the resurgence which has taken place under Fianna Fáil, we shall be able to correct that tendency, roll the stone back up the hill, and repopulate some of the rural areas in order to avoid coming into conflict with the law.

Hope springs eternal. It is deeds people want, not hopes.

If one wanted to argue merely for the sake of argument, then one could legitimately say that some constituencies have been in conflict with the Constitution for quite a long time. As practical politicians, that would, of course, be no help to us because it is our duty as public men to ensure that the meanest citizen can secure representation. It falls to our lot, therefore, to defend the action of the Minister in bringing this Bill before the Oireachtas in order to provide proper representation for all.

The pronouncements from the Opposition benches to-day bore the same conflicting appearance as did the pronouncements from the Opposition benches in the other House when the measure was being discussed there, but it was not, perhaps, quite so noticeable here to-day as it was in the other House. It almost seems as if those who do not quite agree with what is now being done have stayed away. There are, too, those who possibly feel aggrieved because what was done in the 1959 Act has now been undone. They also have stayed away.

Those who might be regarded as diehard supporters of change merely for the sake of change have not been consistent in their approach. We have the Leader of the Opposition here condemning this measure because it has something in common with other measures of a somewhat similar character brought before this House, in that, he alleges, it is brought in at the last moment. I cannot understand why Fine Gael should have any real objection to any delay. I honestly think that Fine Gael have been very anxious that there should be every possible delay so that a general election may not be held while they are in such a poor state of political health.

It would be welcome at any time.

It may be welcome to those who were unsuccessful candidates at the last general election and who hope they may put it across some of their colleagues at the next general election. A fair interpretation of the mentality of the Fine Gael Party is, I think, that they want to avoid having a general election just yet because they hope something will happen which will interfere with the growing popularity of the Fianna Fáil Government and Party at the moment.

Senator Hayes said—and this was repeated parrot-like by subsequent speakers—that it was quite practicable to frame a Bill within the Constitution. He was referring to the Act of 1959 which was declared unconstitutional by the courts. It is amazing the number of people who can come along at this stage and say: "We told you so." Looking at the records of the Dáil and Seanad, one cannot find so clear a statement. We had a statement here in this House from Senator O'Donovan at column 1032 of volume 51 which makes rather strange reading now:

I examined the figures given following replies to Parliamentary Questions. My conclusion was that in the 1937 Bill or Act and in the 1947 Bill or Act—those were the years, as far as I recollect, when there was a ten-year interval compared with the full twelve years now—taking the areas round the country, a fair effort was made, on the whole, to allocate the seats by population.

It is very strange that Senator O'Donovan should have made that statement as recently as late 1959 and should have regarded the figures then showing as a result of the 1947 and the 1937 Acts, as he says here, as a fair effort to allocate the seats by population. The maximum differential under that Act of 1947 was 6,280 odd; the maximum under the disputed 1959 Act was 6,500 odd. How Senator O'Donovan could see that at that time in that light, I really cannot understand when within a short few months afterwards, he found such fault with it as to change his mind entirely and take the action he took. I am not criticising the action but I am pointing out that, in 1959, 6,280 was a fair enough differential and a fair effort when talking about the 1947 Act, but 6,500 under the 1959 Act was so appalling that some action had to be taken.

May I ask the Minister a question? According to the 1958Statistical Abstract, the population per member in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown—this is the population of each constituency in respect of election to Dáil Éireann—was 45,153. The population in—I had better take the lowest one—Dublin North Central— was 14,120. That seems an extraordinary differential.

The Senator is confusing the matter to this extent, that the figures he has just quoted are based on the 1956 Census, whereas the figures in relation to the Act of 1947 were based on the preceding Census.

Of course the Minister is referring to 1947. The figures are 45,000 as against 14,000, a differential of 31,000.

The Senator is completely misunderstanding what I am saying. Under the 1959 measure as enacted by the Oireachtas, the maximum differential emerging was 6,500 odd. The maximum differential obtaining from 1947 to date under that Act was 6,200 odd.

Is the Minister referring to the average differential or the maximum?

The maximum differential as between the highest and the lowest in both cases, the overall variation—6,280 as against 6,500. That is a very small differential. I noticed this only today but it puzzles me how Senator O'Donovan should have expressed that view on the 1959 Bill and then taken the other view later on. However, he has not claimed here as volubly as others have claimed: "I told you so." He did not say he told us this or that, or how right he was. He has not made half as much noise as those who did not take much action but stood around and, if they felt it suited them, hopped on the bandwagon and are now taking credit. If they go down the country where such a stand is not so popular, they are likely to hop off that bandwagon and disclaim all responsibility or kinship with the people who can take the credit. The claims being made here as to how right they were are being made by far more people than those who gave us warnings. Those claims are far more numerous now than were the warnings in 1959.

When the 1959 Act was going through the Dáil, it was accepted in a general way. It was a measure which, no matter what now may be said about it, secured as nearly unanimous acceptance as it would be possible to get for any such measure because unanimity on a matter such as this is beyond us. It is something which cannot possibly be expected in a democratic community and a democratic Parliament such as ours, with various Parties and political affiliations. What suits one group may be said not to suit another, but, as nearly as possible, we had agreement in regard to that Act. The Leader of the Opposition, to my recollection, accepted the Bill of 1959 and was quite happy that it was doing a reasonably good job. There were other members of the Opposition at that time who also accepted it and even went further and praised it, which on such a measure was extraordinary, to say the least of it.

There are some Senators who have not spoken in this debate and who are conspicuous by their absence, those of the Opposition Parties who felt that the measure we put through here was a reasonably good measure. There are those who now speak in general condemnation of it, who say that it is gerrymandering, that it is dirty, political gerrymandering. Cases have been quoted. One of the cases is Senator Donegan's home county of Louth. He has made the strange assertion that it was not really necessary to take away part of Louth at all.

That is not so.

That is what I was about to say.

I said it was not necessary to take away the town of Ardee. A small slice of the country area of Louth and a small slice of the country area of Meath could have been taken.

I can deal only with what the Senator said.

I am telling the Minister what I said.

I was listening to what the Senator said very carefully and the Senator, in my hearing in this House, said there was no need to move 8,000 or 9,000 of the population.

Correct—only about 2,000 or 3,000.

He said it was not necessary to move that population into Monaghan. Let us see what the situation is. In the county constituency of Louth, as we have known it, there are 69,194 of a population. The Senator also said he read the High Court judgment. Whether he has read it or not, he talked as if he did and, having given that impression, I take it he can apply in some measure what was contained therein and sort out for me how 69,194 could be reconciled with the national average per seat ratio of 20,127, unless we were to have half-Deputies. We have them, metaphorically speaking, all right but actually we would have to have half-Deputies in order to go near accommodating County Louth.

That is not so.

On the other hand, adjoining County Louth, we have County Monaghan. In that county constituency, there is from the last census a population of 52,064.

They obviously need somewhere around 8,000. Obviously, again, Louth have somewhere around 8,000 too much. Does anybody suggest that, having read or even heard what was said in the High Court judgment, Louth could be left alone and that Monaghan, if it were to be brought up, could get that additional population from somewhere else?

Meath—7,000 extra.

This has also been said in the Dáil. It is quite all right to burst the boundary of some county which is not your own and with which you have no concern. Let us break into Meath and take part of Meath in order to give County Monaghan its ratio for a third seat.

Not the town of Ardee.

The Senator knows Louth like the back of his hand.

There are few representatives in this or the other House, apart from Deputies from that constituency, who know that Louth-Monaghan boundary better than I do. I have been crossing that boundary through Ardee, Drogheda and Dundalk for the past 14 years at least a couple of times a week.

On main roads.

I have been up there on political business, as the Senator may recall. Here is a fair suggestion to him. The boundary where these two counties join is not very long. Over all, the county of Louth is not very big or wide. From east to west is quite narrow by ordinary standards. It is on the western side of the county that the boundary between it and Monaghan lies. Therefore, if we are to take any number of thousands of population from Louth into Monaghan, it must perforce come from that boundary, where the two meet. That being so, we cannot, in fairness to Louth, take a narrow front on that small boundary that adjoins the two and cut right across to the sea or go right across Louth to such a degree that it is almost splintered in two. We have taken it down the length of the boundary between the two counties and, in so doing, Ardee has gone with the rest.

If the Senator looks into the matter and looks into the position of the populations of the various divisions, townlands, and so on, that it would be possible to bring in from Louth to Monaghan, he will find it is practically an impossibility to get the figures that are there to be given by Louth and that must be got by Monaghan. It will be a practical impossibility for the Senator to bring them out of Louth, except in the sensible way of bringing them out where the two counties adjoin, without practically going to the sea or isolating some part of it——

Leave Ardee as it is.

What about the other counties? This isolated, purely parochial, political viewpoint which the Senator is now displaying, to an even greater degree than when he was talking, mystifies me. He does not seem to realise that, if I had done as he suggests, repercussions in other counties and county constituencies would then occur for which there would be no answer whatever and that the disparities which exist at the moment would have been greater if Senator Donegan had had this job to do and did it according to what he now says. If he had, he likely would have found it would be very little different from what is before the House. He can talk about it because he knows he is not in the position and that it is a fair proposition that he will never be called upon to do a job such as this.

Therefore, the sky is the limit so far as condemnation of the present measure is concerned and the sky is the limit in regard to what can be done and what could be done and the sky is the limit in regard to the allegations being made as to why certain things that are now being done have in fact come about, one of them being that, by this dirty political gerrymandered trick he alleges has taken place, we are taking out of Louth a very strong Fine Gael stronghold wherein they could have made up two seats——

——and are putting it into Monaghan, where, added to the sum total of Fine Gael support in that county at the moment, it cannot make any difference except to increase the vote of one man.

Did it ever occur to Senator Donegan that, with his successful colleague in the last election announcing withdrawal from the political scene, Senator Donegan's chances personally may be enhanced if somebody else does not come along and swipe the ground from under his feet? However, regardless of whether or not he gets to the Dáil the next time, it is quite obvious that, with his colleague departing the scene, the chance of Fine Gael getting a second seat in Louth is sheer imagination on the part of Senator Donegan.

We will get our second seat and with an excellent candidate and let the Minister not try to damn his chances. That is what he is up to. He is a Minister of State now.

Wishful thinking on the part of Senator Donegan. He knows full well——

Will the Minister be permitted to conclude his speech?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I think he is.

I ask the Chair to deal with Senator Donegan.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


As far as Senator Donegan is concerned, he may have the chance now with his runner maybe an unknown and possibly a handpicked weakling of the Fine Gael Party. Therefore, he may make the Dáil the next time. Whether or not he does, it is quite obvious that Fine Gael have not a hope——

We will get our two seats.

All the groaning and wailing to the people of the area in and around Ardee will not make any conversions to Fine Gael.

Not at all. They will not be voting for me. The people I am talking about will not be voting for me.

Still, Senator Donegan and his Party are losing nothing because they have no hope of a second seat.

Every hope.

We are being more than charitable in sending in, as it now appears, a fairly substantial Fine Gael vote that will undoubtedly help to retain, if luck runs with him, the Leader of the Opposition as a member of the Dáil.

He is quite safe at any time.

Quite safe.

We would not like to see Fine Gael completely rudderless. They are now without a head, but, without a rudder, they would be sunk altogether and we are trying to maintain some semblance——

They beat you in Sligo-Leitrim.

That dog will wag his tail another day. Senator L'Estrange will have a hard fight to try to pull something off on another occasion.

In other words, the Minister has fixed it. That is the answer.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


I really must protest against this organised barrage of interruptions. If these Blueshirt tactics do not stop, we shall have to take adequate reciprocal action.

Get the Broy Harriers out again.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I think they have had a fair innings now. The Minister to continue.

In so far as this completely illogical argument made by Senator Donegan is concerned——

Enough of your threats.

——he either does not know what he is talking about or he is talking with his tongue in his cheek. The Senator said there was no need to take 8,000 or 9,000 out of Louth.

You could have taken 2,000 to 3,000 in the country area.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach


Before I started to attend this House and during my first few visits to it, I had the belief—I also thought it was the tradition in this House many years ago, when I was not in any House or in politics—that it was really a top-class assembly, but since the last election and looking at a few members only—and I say "a few" deliberately—it has certainly changed its character and I do not think the change is for the better. It does not matter to me if there were ten more like the terrible twins—it will not prevent me from saying what I have to say and replying to the statements made, some of which were unwittingly stupid, others just plain stupid and others made in a naïve sort of way to try to confuse still further a situation that has already been fairly well confused by their colleagues of like character in the Dáil. The High Court ruling is such—the Senator can check this with some of his colleagues who, I am quite sure, will agree—that a reduction of the population of Louth by 2,000 or 3,000 bringing it to 66,000 or 67,000 would not meet the dictates of the High Court in their interpretation of the Constitution.

It would.

Then the High Court interpretation is wrong and Senator O'Donovan has had all his trouble for nothing.

In order to obey the High Court decision, it was not necessary to work to a small deviation from the national average of 1,000. That was made quite clear. The only reference to 1,000 in the whole case was the reference made to the fact that on the first occasion it was possible to work within 1,000, so that if Louth and Meath gave a few thousand tomorrow, with Louth adding a few thousand more, there would have been absolutely no contravention of the ruling of the High Court.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I think that should be the last intervention by Senator Donegan in this discussion.

Senator Donegan is entirely, completely and absolutely wrong and I give him the credit of having sufficient intelligence to know it when he talks of interpretations by the Hight Court judge on the constitutional requirements in regard to this measure. It is necessary and essential to take more than 2,000 or 3,000 out of Louth. Taking 2,000 or 3,000 out of Louth would leave Louth with an average of 22,000 per seat, which would increase the national differential by a considerable number, a number which could not be justified. If it is possible to take those 2,000 or 3,000 out of Louth, it is possible to take the 8,000 or 9,000 out of Louth which has been done, taking up the balance which is necessary to leave three seats with Monaghan. In County Meath, we find they have around 6,000 of a population more in the aggregate than their three-seat ratio would give. We find in Westmeath-Longford that four seats leave us with a balance of 6,000 or 7,000. If we look at the constituency of Kildare, you will find that in the two adjoining counties of Kildare and Westmeath——

Kildare does not adjoin it. It does not touch Westmeath. Would the Minister look at the map?

Is the Senator going to keep quiet?

It adjoins it now.

No; it is amalgamated with it.

What is the difference? There was a surplus in Meath which we could not tolerate. In Westmeath-Longford, likewise we could not tolerate the surplus. We could not tolerate the surplus or the deficit existing in Kildare, depending on whether it had three or four seats. We found that by adding the two surpluses in question to the existing figures in the existing constituency of Kildare, we came within striking distance of the national average and brought the other two constituencies into line. That surely is not an illogical thing to have done. We are required to try to bring about near equality of the ratio and in that instance that is the manner in which it came about and the way in which it was finally settled.

Senator Burke talked quite strongly about the situation in Waterford and Tipperary. Senator Burke apparently does not want Waterford. For some reason or another, he dislikes Waterford joining the constituency of South Tipperary. He made no bones about it. While I may not disagree with his holding his views, his likes and dislikes, at the same time, I disagree with him when he speaks about what might have been done instead. He said we could have left Waterford intact. We could, but then we would have another trip to the courts. Under the interpretation, we could not leave Waterford intact because Waterford county constituency contains, according to the census then available to us, some 74,000 of a population and for four seats, that was too low. In that situation, the idea of leaving Waterford intact goes up in smoke. I could not leave Waterford intact. It had to be interfered with. While Senator Burke complains that part of Waterford should not have been brought into Tipperary, he also implies that since it is impossible to leave Waterford intact by not taking part of it into Tipperary, he wants part of South Tipperary to go to Waterford.

He must have it one way or another; you cannot have it both ways. That is what the Senator seems to think he can have. I should like to have had it that way also. Taking it all round, if we could have looked at things that way, everybody would be more happy. The facts were there. We have to try to conform to the requirements as outlined by the courts. This we have tried to do in accepting the view of the courts. In so doing, I do not see why we should be blamed if these breaches of boundaries occur, as they must occur. There is no use in saying here or anywhere else that this did not have to be done and that the position could have been left as it was. These changes which were brought about by this interpretation were necessary. If people have a grievance in any part of the country, there is no reason why I should get the blame for it. There is no reason why the Government should be blamed for it.

In saying that, I do not want to be taken up wrongly as, apparently, I have been. I have not blamed anyone else. I am merely stating the facts. The constitutional requirement is there. The interpretation has been given by the High Court. We accepted that and have been working accordingly. As a result of that, certain county boundaries had to be breached and this has given rise to grievances. These grievances are being pushed by various people for their own ends. The blame for these grievances cannot, however, be placed upon me or the Government. I am again making that categorical statement, which I also made in the other House.

Senator O'Sullivan made a strong protest against the manner in which the boundaries of the constituencies in Cork were drawn. He protested that the city constituency boundary was being breached and that part of that constituency was being put into the county constituency. He also seems to be labouring under a misapprehension when he says that, since the total number of seats in the whole of Cork city and county are the same as in the past, there is no need for a change. This is entirely wrong. The population within the borough constituency of Cork had increased to around 112,000. That was beyond the ratio permitted, according to the interpretation of the Constitution. Therefore, we had to reduce the population figure in the city constituency and transfer part of it to the rural constituencies. That is why, although we have the same number of Deputies for the whole of Cork city and county in this measure as we had in the 1947 measure, we have had to alter the boundaries and do what Senator O'Sullivan objects to.

Naturally, it would have been much easier for all concerned if we could have left these boundaries untouched, but the fact remains that we had to do it. If people feel aggrieved about it, they should seek out where the blame lies, if there be any blame, but they should not blame me for it. Senators, as well as Deputies, are well aware of my views on this matter but these views must be subordinated to the requirements of the Constitution as recently interpreted. Members surely realise that I, as Minister for Local Government, would not create these grievances if they were not a necessary part of the scheme I had to introduce in deference to the requirements of the Constitution.

Senator O'Quigley spoke eloquently, but not very sensibly, on the Bill. He talked in a vague but somewhat disturbing fashion about the occupant of the Presidential Office. He talked about the oath the President took on assuming office to uphold the Constitution. He blandly tried to tell us that in some way the upholder of the Constitution was the humble, private citizen, his colleague, Senator O'Donovan. He was followed by Senator Donegan. While neither seemed to say what was in his mind, I had a queer feeling that their introduction into the debate of the occupant of the Presidential office was in very poor taste. This only follows up the innuendoes made in the other House by a gentleman, if the term may be applied to him, who kicked off there. What he said is being repeated here, parrot-like, by the two worthy Senators.

It is nothing to what Fianna Fáil said about some of the founders of the State in the past.

From those lips I take it as praise indeed.

I am sorry Senator O'Quigley is not present, but I have no doubt we will have the pleasure of his participation in the later Stages of the Bill. He said that the Constitutions of 1937 and 1922 were one and the same as far as the equality of ratios is concerned. Did he ever stop to think, if that is so, why the words were changed in the 1937 Constitution and are not the identical words used in the 1922 Constitution? Perhaps some members of the House will check the wording of the two sections dealing with this matter and ask themselves why the words were changed? Was it for the fun of it? Was it to amuse somebody? Was it to entertain or confuse? In any event, the fact remains that they are not the same. I shall leave that to Senator O'Quigley for a discussion at a later stage.

The Senator got a new slant on this idea of political gerrymandering. He says it is a trumped-up excuse to defeat certain sitting Deputies. In his own queer sort of illogical way, he went on to tell us how somebody could be weak and, if a little bit of their area were taken out, he would fall to the ground, while somebody else would be bolstered up. It shows the sort of mind the Senator has that he seems to see so clearly all the manipulations possible, but to apply those manipulations within the framework of this measure would be beyond his capacity or the capacity of anybody else.

The breaching of county boundaries is regarded by Senator O'Quigley as a softening-up process so that we can bring about confusion in the minds of the people to enable us more readily to change the Constitution. Again, it is a fair example of the way his mind works, if I can say it is a mind and that it is working.

Is it in order, Sir, for the Minister to refer in this manner to Senator O'Quigley's mind and how it is working?

You are becoming very thin-skinned.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I do not think the Minister meant it maliciously.


Thank you very much.

I take it that the reason according to Senator O'Quigley, that we took this softening-up process he talks about, was to bring about a change of mind in the people so that the Constitution might be changed. That, certainly, is a new angle and we shall give him credit for that in his absence but you do not bring about a change of mind or get the public to change something, as any politician will surely have found out by now, by confusing them. You merely confirm them in their beliefs. Fine Gael learned that lesson a long time ago and have used that tactic when it suited them. Now they want to allege that, to attain certain ends and desires, the Fianna Fáil party are trying to confuse the electorate and bring about a change of mind to get changes made that otherwise the people would not allow to be made, suggesting that the minds of the people are such that we can mould them as we desire, confuse and bamboozle them to such an extent that they will not know what they are doing.

Fianna Fáil succeeded very well.

If Fine Gael fall for that point of view it is little wonder that they have treated the people as they have done. That they should attribute the same motives and methods to Fianna Fáil is not our fault but it is not a very good effort from them now.

Somebody should "tell off" Senator O'Quigley about it and warn him that it is better to let sleeping dogs lie, that possibly what he says will react on themselves as many of these things do, and there is little in the way of political trickery that they have not taken part in down the years.

There is nothing they can learn in the North from you about gerrymandering.

I should think that gerrymandering would be much more applicable to the way the Senator talks when he is on his feet. That he is still meandering there is no doubt because he has not said all he intended to say and it is only when points are brought to his mind by somebody else that his recollection is sparked off and he jumps up with some new suggestion.

Let us take the suggestion about gerrymandering. The House has heard Senator Mullins quote members of the hierarchy of Fine Gael, the Leader of the Party, the ex-Minister for Local Government and also the present leader of the Labour Party who, while making these charges of gerrymandering in regard to this measure, hastened to contradict themselves by indicating in varying terms that gerrymandering could not be done in this part of the country because the circumstances in which it could be operated do not exist. Better than that, come statements from Senator O'Quigley. He says we have been and are gerrymandering in this measure. He waxes eloquent in trying to show how wrong the 1959 Act was and how base were the motives for what we are doing in the 1961 Bill and he says it would certainly mean the loss of four seats to Fianna Fáil on the western sea-board. Has anybody in his sane senses ever heard of gerrymandering bringing about a loss to the Party employing it? I shall make a present to the Opposition of the remainder of the argument. They can go home, work it out and tell us about it on the Committee Stage.

Another suggestion that could come only from Senator O'Quigley, when worked out, leads to a strange situation. He says we should have amended the 1959 Act rather than repeal it. He says we wanted to wipe it out so that it will never be known that it existed. He says we should amend it and that only the parts of it that were declared unconstitutional should be removed but he did not tell the whole story. The amending Bill would have to amend Section 6, replace Section 7, extend Sections 8 and 9 and add Section 31. Subsection 4 and the Schedule have been declared unconstitutional. What would we have then? We should have merely Section 1 which was the definition Section and Section 2 which states the number of members, 144. That is the sensible contribution on which Senator O'Quigley spent so much time this evening.

If we had done what he suggests we would be left with the number, in words or in figures, 144. That would not have made a lot of sense but it would be almost as sensible as his final remark when he said there should be made available to the members of the House the population figures for the townlands in order that sensible amendments might be framed for the Committee or other Stages of the Bill. There are 51,000 townlands in the country and I do not think, outside the imagination of the Senator, that very many others in the House would want to have thrust upon them the figures that would be involved in meeting that request.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

He meant that where Senators wanted to put down an amendment the figures for particular townlands in limited areas would be made available to them.

That was not what I understood.

We are not responsible for the Minister's understanding.

I can scarcely be responsible for Senator O'Quigley's imagination or ignorance of how many townlands there are or what he really wanted.

The general pattern of the discussion has been anything but conclusive. It was as inconclusive as it was in the Dáil or as it was in 1959. A week or so ago there was the effort of the Opposition Parties to get on the bandwagon. The trouble is they do not know which bandwagon was going in the right direction. They do not know whether to claim credit for the new measure brought before the Oireachtas or to discredit those responsible for bringing the matter before the courts. They want it both ways. They want to have a one-horse race and back him each way. That may be very desirable but it is scarcely possible to get any bookmaker who is "mug" enough to lay the odds.

The laymen of Fine Gael do not know where they are going or whether to claim credit for this measure. It is not a popular measure, as I am in a position to know better, perhaps, than anyone else. I would advise Fine Gael not to back that horse if they want to gain votes. They had better try to blame somebody and that seems to be the line they were adopting this evening. They must make up their minds either to place the blame on somebody or take credit for the measure. They cannot have it both ways. They cannot cod all the people all the time. That is what they have been trying to do in regard to this measure throughout the various proceedings that have taken place in the past 12 months.

The suggestion has also been made —just to show how when a stupid statement is made by somebody and followed up and repeated and repeated, people finally begin to believe it—that my constituency of Donegal was divided in order to suit me and to get rid of Deputy Sheldon. When the 1959 Bill was before the House, the charge was made that there was no change being made in Donegal at all, both constituencies being left with the same number of seats, East Donegal retaining its four seats. The charge then made by Deputy O'Donnell, a county man of my own and ex-Minister for Local Government—and a man who, I believe, should know what he is talking about politically, even about East Donegal, but who apparently does not —was that Deputy Sheldon's seat was being maintained for him by Fianna Fáil as a payoff for the support he gave to Fianna Fáil on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Bill and other measures during their term in government.

A few weeks ago, on this measure, another Front Bench Fine Gael Deputy got up and made the charge that we are now reducing East Donegal to three, that we are ditching Deputy Sheldon, that that is the designed purpose of the change of boundary which is designed to suit the Minister for Local Government. That has been repeated here and if it is repeated often enough it is likely that some people will come to believe it. I just want those who might in some way have regard to that statement, to look at the charge made by Deputy O'Donnell in relation to the matter in 1959 and to read the charge made by Deputy Sweetman and repeated by a Senator of the Fine Gael persuasion here this evening. Having read both of those, and realising the close ties that must exist among the members of the august Fine Gael Party, they will surely come to the conclusion that somebody at some stage was not being very truthful and that if they are untruthful, unscrupulously on this, they are as likely to have been untruthful on other aspects of this measure and to measure their statements on this matter in the light of that conflict of expression.

You have not got East and West Donegal now; you have North-East and South-West, going across the mountains. The Minister told us last year that they could not be crossed.

Another matter which I should like to bring to the attention of this House is that time and again it has been said that I stated that the 1959 Act had a rural bias. I want to correct that. I have never said it had a rural bias. I said it appeared to have a rural bias, or it may appear to have a rural bias. I have never categorically stated that it had and I have corrected that on several occasions in other places and I am correcting it again now for the record. There is something else which I want to correct and which I have already corrected, but which I might as well not have corrected because it has been repeated by the same person. There was an interjection by Senator O'Quigley this evening when Senator Lenihan was speaking, and he said that during the debate on the Third Amendment of the Constitution Act, I had said that if it got through, Fine Gael would have had it.

The Minister said it.

I want to tell the Senator that he is telling an untruth and I have challenged this matter——

The papers published it.

I have got the matter corrected in the Official Report and I want it recorded that I have shoved it down the throat of the Senator who has used it. At the time the notetaker's notes were impounded and inspected and I want it withdrawn and I want it put on the record of this House——

The papers published it.

I do not give a damn what the papers published. I am not coming in here to be told twice on a matter that has been corrected here and in the Dáil, and I am not——


An Leas-Chathaoirleach

Order! The matter is entirely dead.

The matter is not——

The matter is not dead.

The charge has been made here this evening and I am challenging this House to see that this type of thing does not happen again, particularly when I have corrected the same Senator before and challenged this matter in the Dáil and I am not going to be blackguarded again.


An Leas-Chathaoirleach


Of course Senator L'Estrange in his meanderings around the country and in his charges of gerrymandering, made comparisons and said it was as bad as the Quisling something-or-other of Northern Ireland. That is scarcely understood by the Senator who made the charge. I am sure if he did understand it, he would be a little less hasty in making such a charge. He will realise that this type of charge, no matter how groundless it may be, when made here will undoubtedly earn him some notoriety and will undoubtedly be used by those people whom he has mentioned, as a defence for themselves in the future. Possibly that is the purpose behind the Senator's charge when he talks about Ballaghaderreen being sent into Mayo to suit Deputy Flanagan, and North Mayo being fixed to suit the Minister for Lands, and Louth being fixed in order that the Minister for External Affairs should be all right.

Surely Senator L'Estrange, even at this stage, would have the common decency to think of what he is saying and of how baseless and groundless those charges are, to consider the facts and figures and to realise that these changes are made because they had to be made. If they are not acceptable to everyone, they are certainly not of my making or design. They are there as changes which we must make. I should like to say this and I say it most emphatically. There are all sorts of veiled suggestions, all sorts of charges both here and in the Dáil, that all the various boundaries were drawn and penned by the various Fianna Fáil Deputies——

So they were.

——who had special meetings in the Custom House and burned the midnight oil. I want to tell this House that there were no grand meetings held and no midnight oil burned. What is more, if I were to publish the list of representations I received, there would be some very red faces on the Opposition benches, so far as boundaries are concerned—representations made without their Party's knowledge. I shall not publish them because of the fact that any Deputy or Senator for that matter, who wanted to bring to my attention any particular item, any particular fact in regard to local knowledge that I could not possibly have, was quite welcome to give me that information in order that I might be enabled better to do the job I was charged with in bringing in a Bill that would make commonsense where boundaries or new divisions had to be made.

With regard to the boundaries and new divisions which had to be made, let there be no mistake about it, there would be many red faces if we were to publish the representations, and the personal representations, that were made. There was no hiding behind the bush about it. Certain changes were suggested to me about the manner in which the lines could be drawn—there was no tongue or tooth put in it—for the benefit of certain members of Fine Gael. Let us have no more of this talk that this matter was born out of some unique sort of clandestine meetings which had some sinister purpose behind them to suit Fianna Fáil, and that everything could be so arranged that even though we were rejected by the people, we would still be the Government.

The people will have the Government they want under this Bill, just as they had the Government they wanted under other Bills over the years. If it is a Fianna Fáil Government the next time, as I have no doubt it will be, Fine Gael should not try to belittle that success or imply that Fianna Fáil had not that success by saying it was brought about or engineered in any manner. The next election will presumably be fought on this Bill, if it becomes an Act, and when the Government are formed, from whatever Party, they will have been duly and properly elected, and will represent the wishes of the people throughout the entire country. That Government, as I say, will more likely be Fianna Fáil than Fine Gael. One would not need to be a prophet——

What about Sligo-Leitrim ?

——or a gambler to lay fair odds that it will not be a Fine Gael Government who will take office after the next election.

Do not be too sure.

Fine Gael should not try to undermine or belittle in advance the work that was done. It may be that the mud they sling now, or later, by allegations of a gerrymandering electoral scheme brought in by the Fianna Fáil Government, will be to the detriment of the country. Seemingly, it is the avowed purpose of Fine Gael, if they cannot achieve Government office themselves, to make it impossible or as difficult as possible for whoever gets there, regardless of the consequences to the national wellbeing.

There are just one or two other matters that have been mentioned here to which I am called upon to give some reply, if for no other reason than to give certain members of the House some better knowledge of some of these matters for the next Stage of the Bill. Senator L'Estrange seems to be under the impression—which I should correct for him—that the Minister for Local Government was responsible for the 1959 Act. That Act was the responsibility of the Oireachtas and that should be clearly——

I said the Minister and the Government.

He said "the Minister" and now that is amended to "the Minister and the Government". I am merely putting on record that the 1959 Act was enacted by the Oireachtas, not by the Government, or the Minister for Local Government. It might also be better to put on record that the reference by Senator L'Estrange to 1937 and the Economic War does not seem to me to ring true either.

If the Minister reads the full statement, it will ring quite true.

We will not have to impound the statement, either.

No, because there will not be any false charges made here by unscrupulous people as have been made on the other side of the House here and in the other House.

That is a false statement. Fianna Fáil Deputies and Senators were in the Custom House with the Minister.

Is Senator L'Estrange to be allowed to make that statement again?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

If the Senator will allow me. Senator L'Estrange has been interrupting a great deal tonight. I think he should cease now and allow the Minister to complete his statement.

I think Sir, if I might suggest it, that you should go further than that. Senator L'Estrange has accused the Minister of a falsehood. I think he should be made to withdraw that accusation.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I think the Senator should accept the Minister's statement that there was no burning of the midnight oil in the Custom House.

I cannot accept that statement. Fianna Fáil Deputies and Senators knew the proposed changes in Westmeath a fortnight before the Bill came out.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator must accept the Minister's statement.

I cannot, when I know that Fianna Fáil Deputies and Senators knew exactly the changes to be made before the Bill came out.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I cannot hear the Senator on this matter because the Senator must accept the Minister's word about it. The Minister has said there were no Deputies of the Fianna Fáil Party with him burning the midnight oil.

They were there. Where did they get the information?

Is the Senator to be allowed to get away with that again?

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

He must accept the Minister's statement.

I cannot accept it. Fine Gael Deputies and Senators knew the changes to be made.

What does that prove?

Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil?

Fine Gael Deputies and Senators knew from Fianna Fáil Deputies and Senators.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator may not make continuous statements about this matter. He must accept the Minister's word that Fianna Fáil Deputies were not closeted with him at midnight.

There is no other way to work the system we are trying to work. If the Minister makes an explicit statement on his own word about his personal conduct, that should be accepted. If he says it did not happen, there is no other way of dealing with it except to say: "I accept that". I am sorry, but there is no other method.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

I take it the Senator is accepting the Minister's word?

I am sorry but I cannot.

I think that without any further discussion he should be asked to leave the House. He will not now accept a ruling of the Chair.

An Leas-Chathaoirleach

The Senator will have to withdraw from the House.

Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Deputies and Senators had that information and someone must have told them. I will withdraw because I believe it to be true.

The Senator is looking for the headlines. He thinks he is at a meeting of the Westmeath County Council.

Senator L'Estrange withdrew.

Having disposed of that little episode, I think the last interjection by the Senator before he left the House is one to which the answer is, as I have already said, that there would be red faces in the Fine Gael Party if all the representations were to be published. He says he cannot accept my word and has left the House rather than accept it. He says he cannot accept it because Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael Deputies and Senators knew what was to be in the Bill two or three days before it appeared and someone must have told them. If we take that with what I have said about red faces, of course someone told them.

However, I think it only fair to say in regard to the measure before the House and which we hope will, in fact, without much more delay or ado, become the law so that an election may take place within the specified period not exceeding five years from the election of the previous Government, with all the various grievances— and grievances there must be in this type of matter—taking it all in all, and taking everything into account, the grievances are not greater in number than one would expect in the circumstances. I do not think they are any greater than they would be, regardless of who might have been charged with drawing up the Bill.

It is easy to stand up here and say this could have been done, that could have been done, or the other could have been done, with any particular constituency. Listening to the speakers here, one would think there were innumerable permutations and combinations and that there were hundreds and thousands of choices, so far as constituency boundaries are concerned. The fact of the matter is that, when one gets down to the problem, there are really very few combinations and permutations from which to make a choice. In all sincerity, I say that the combination of constituencies we now have, and their boundaries, available within the framework of our Constitution, is the best combination that we, or anyone else, could get. I do not think anyone else would do any better. Even if someone else did come up with something that appeared to be better, he, too, would find himself faced with innumerable grievances.

With the knowledge and experience I now have, I have no hesitation in recommending this Bill to the House. I admit there are grievances and I admit that in some areas those aggrieved have cause but some areas were bound to be affected, and some areas were bound to have grievances. The suggested remedy of drawing the boundaries somewhere else is not the answer. Where there are grievances, there will naturally be opposition to this measure. I believe this Bill conforms fully and completely with constitutional requirements and, at the same time, gives rise to the least number of grievances in the least number of places. I recommend this Bill to the House.

Question put and agreed to.
Committee stage ordered for Wednesday, 31st May, 1961.
The Seanad adjourned at 10.35 p.m. until 3 p.m. on Wednesday, 31st May, 1961.